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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review - A Conspiracy in Belgravia

Happy Sir Arthur Conon Doyle's 159th birthday!

I was incredibly excited to read and review the first in this series, A Study in Scarlett (click here), which is a retelling of the famous Sherlock story featuring a woman as the actual detective with her false identity as Sherlock.  The concept was great, but more importantly the execution was superb.  The highly anticipated second book in the series arrived and it took a little longer for me to get to the book.  But I finally have a review.

Author: Sherry Thomas

Copyright: Sept 2017 (Berkley) 336 pgs

Series: 2nd in Lady Sherlock Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre:
Historical Detective Mystery

Main Character: Charlotte Holmes, disgraced upper class woman who creates the Sherlock Holmes identity

Setting: 1886, Devonshire and London England

Obtained Through: Personal purchase


"The game is afoot as Charlotte Holmes returns in USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas’s Victorian-set Lady Sherlock series.

Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.

Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.

In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London"

Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, feminine, too fond of sweets, and far too intelligent for the time period. She is funny without intending to be as she considers her fondness for desserts and how many chins she has at the moment.  She is coldly logical, but when it comes to Lord Ingram she may have unwanted emotions.  Mrs. John Watson, a retired stage actress has become her sidekick. Lord Ingram Ashburton, a long time friend and first love, knows of Charlotte's secret identity and aids her.  In this outing Lord Ingram's unrequited love for Charlotte whitle in an unhappy marriage is displayed. Inspector Robert Treadles featured in the first book shows up again but has his prejudices against consulting Charlotte again that demonstrates the common man's attitude towards such a woman in that day and age.  Moriarity is developed further and is slowly developing into the mastermind and nemesis.  Mrs Watson's niece, Miss Redmayne, is visiting and assists in the investigation at times.

The plot definitely has several twists and has a level of intrigue that sneaks up on the reader.  The pacing, I felt, maintained a steady pace and kept me engaged.  I will give a caveat that it should be read when you can give your full attention, I read it in short bits here and there because of life circumstances, and found with the twists I could easily loose the thread and get lost.

The killer reveal was a final twist in the story I had not seen coming, well done!  The wrap up is nicely satisfying and even a little poignant. 

Not only was this a great mystery, but the characters are further developed and their personal dramas unfold and gain complication.  A shocking move on Charlotte's father's part shows how little voice women of the era had in their own lives.  I find this series so imaginative and refreshing, give it a try if you like historical mysteries.

Rating:   Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.



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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review - Murder at Half Moon Gate

I loved Andrea Penrose's Lady Arianna Regency series and now she has started a new historical mystery series that I am excited to read and review.  The first in the series, Murder on Swan Lake I reviewed (click here) and now for the second in this new series.  Read on to find out how the second novel in this new historical mystery stacks up.

Author: Andrea Penrose

Copyright: Mar 2018 (Kensington) 368 pgs

Series: 2nd in Wrexford and Sloane Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Widowed Charlotte Sloane, a satirical cartoonist under the name A.J. Quill teams with Earl of Wrexford, former military man and amateur chemist

Setting: Regency era, London England

Obtained Through: Personal Purchase

From the book cover:  "When Lord Wrexford discovers the body of a gifted inventor in a dark London alley, he promptly alerts the watchman and lets the authorities handle the matter. But Wrexford soon finds himself drawn into the murder investigation when the inventor’s widow begs for his assistance, claiming the crime was not a random robbery. It seems her husband’s designs for a revolutionary steam-powered engine went missing the night of his death. The plans could be worth a fortune . . . and very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Joining Wrexford in his investigation is Charlotte Sloane, who uses the pseudonym A. J. Quill to publish her scathing political cartoons. Her extensive network of informants is critical for her work, but she doesn’t mind tapping that same web of spies to track down an elusive killer. Each suspect—from ambitious assistants to rich investors, and even the inventor’s widow—is entwined in a maze of secrets and lies that leads Wrexford and Sloane down London’s most perilous stews and darkest alleyways.

With danger lurking at every turn, the potent combination of Wrexford’s analytical mind and Sloane’s exacting intuition begins to unravel the twisted motivations behind the inventor’s death. But they are up against a cunning and deadly foe—a killer ready to strike again before they can recover the inventor’s priceless designs . . ."

Charlotte Sloane has been scraping by financially since her husband died and she took up the satirical cartoon drawings he had done under the name A. J. Quill. Because of her job, she can't shy away from finding the society's dirt to use in her cartoons that are her livelihood.  Earl of Wrexford, Wrex for short - never a first name, even with his friends - is a scientist in outlook which makes him different than other wealthy or titled peers. He fears Charlotte has rubbed off on him as he softens to the plight of her two charges and about justice in general. Sheffield is Wrex's good friend and comes through in a pinch. The two street urchins Charlotte has unofficially adopted, Raven and Hawk, are street wise, a touch jaded, and whip smart develop into stars in their own right.

London is presented as just as complex and layered as the characters.  You go from polite society visits in wealthy parlors to slums and warehouses teaming with the disreputable underbelly.  Each holds its unique perils.

The plot winds and weaves, since little about the people involved is honest or straightforward.  The pacing is steady and consistent producing a page turner that keeps you wanting more.  This series is producing some exciting killer confrontations that I particularly enjoy.  The wrap-up is particularly interesting regarding the relationship between Charlotte and Wrex.

I enjoy how the series allows Charlotte to go against the typical female role of this time, while still maintaining some adherence to the era.  The characters of Raven and Hawk are stellar additions to the cast and allow for Charlotte and Wrex to show their softer sides.  The mystery and suspense are top-notch and the slowly developing a relationship between Charlotte and Rex is believable and quite touching.  Overall this series, hits all of the right chords for a beautiful storytelling experience.  

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.



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Monday, April 30, 2018

Author Guest Post-James Jackson

Please welcome James M. Jackson to the blog.  He authors the Seamus McCree series consisting of five novels and one novella. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s Lowcountry. He claims the moves between locations are weather-related, but others suggest they may have more to do with not overstaying his welcome. He is the past president of the 700+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

REVIEWS FOR THE AUTHOR
Reviews are the balm and bane of writers these days. With so few newspapers providing reviews, many readers have come to rely on reader reviews on websites like Goodreads or Amazon. Best-selling authors can rely on enough of their fans to post reviews; the rest of us must rely on the kindness of strangers to post enough reviews to attract a new reader’s attention. (Thank you to all readers who do post reviews.)

Some authors claim not to read their reviews. I’m not so self-assured; I read them all. And I read them for books I’m considering as well. One thing I have noticed is that many of the “bad” reviews are from people who don’t like the kind of book the author writes.

It’s a shame for a reader to waste limited reading time on a book they are unlikely to enjoy. I’ve put together 10 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Read My Book

* If you like page-turners with plots that twist and turn, Empty

Promises is your kind of book.

* If you like hot romance on the page – not so much.

* If you like suspense and thriller novels, Empty Promises will suit your fancy.

* If you prefer cozy mysteries with food and crafts on the side – this is not that.

* If you like complex characters with strengths and weaknesses, Empty Promises has them.

* If you like your heroes to take names and pound the bad guys to dust, this may not be for you. Seamus prefers to use brain over brawn, although he’ll use force when he must.

* If you enjoy amateur sleuth stories set in real locations, Seamus turns amateur sleuth and Empty Promises is set in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

* If dragons or zombies or other magical/mystical creatures are your preference, the closest this book comes is a granddaughter who likes fairies and stuffed animals.

* If you want a knee-slapping hoot – I don’t write them.

* But if you enjoy a bit of wry humor, touching scenes with the grandkid and her dog, Empty Promises has them, too.

The best way to know if you’ll enjoy a book is to read an excerpt. To check out Empty Promises, you can download and read the first four chapters of Empty Promises (click here), or if you prefer reading a series from the beginning, here are the first four chapters of Ant Farm (Seamus McCree #1) (click here).
***
 You can find information about Jim and his books at https://jamesmjackson.com. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and/or Amazon.

You can order paperback versions of his books from your favorite physical or online bookstore (or from his website if you’d like them autographed). You can find his Kindle books here


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
THANK You Mr. Jackson for the glimpse into your book, I'm sure there are readers who will be interested.



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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review - A Brush with Shadows


This is one of the few series I have followed since the very first book:  The Anatomist's Wife (click here) .  I have also reviewed #2 Mortal Arts (click here) , #3 A Grave Matter (click here), #4 A Study in Death (click here), #5 As Death Draws Near (click here), and was honored to interview the author (click here), and have a guest post (click here).  Now for the next book in this riveting historical mystery series.


Author: Anna Lee Huber

Copyright: March 2018 (Berkley) 384 pgs

Series: 6th in Lady Darby Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Detective Mystery

Main Character:
Lady Kiera Darby, an accomplished artist, widow now re-married, and social outcast

Setting:
1831, Scottish Moors

Obtained Through: Publisher (Netgalley) for honest opinion

From the Cover:  "Sebastian Gage returns home to battle the ghosts of his past and prevent them from destroying his future with Kiera in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.

All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim..."

Lady Kiera Darby finds a challenge when living with Gage's mother's family while investigating the heir's disappearance.  They are an unpleasant lot, privileged, condescending, judgmental and so on. She gets a good picture of how they tormented her husband during childhood.  


Sebastian Gage struggles with the baggage from his childhood from this cruel family plus questions regarding his mother's death years prior. 

Bree, Kiera's personal maid and Anderley, Gage's rough spoken valet are the only people they can trust.  Gage's Grandfather, Aunt, and cousins Alfred and Rory are all contentious and incredibly secretive. 

The setting of the Scottish Moors provided a gothic setting that created the best atmospheric stage I can remember in a novel (better than Hounds of Baskerville even). 

The plot quickly turns complicated with the secretive nature of the family and many developments and aspects to Alfred's disappearance.  The pacing kept me reading into the night.  The climax was edge-of-your-seat thrills - just how I love it.  The wrap-up provides satisfaction on many levels for Sebastion, Kiera, and the reader.

This case, with all of its personal issues, is the most emotionally straining for Kiera and Sebastian.  They are seriously challenged so early in their marriage and it shows what they are both made of.  I loved the depiction of the moors, highlighting the stark beauty and lethal hazards. There was love and hate, privilege and isolation, and bitter family dynamics.  This book would be excellent for a book club to discuss the layers of plot, characters, theme, and the use of gothic elements.  I believe this is my favorite of the Lady Darby mysteries thus far. 

Rating:
  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 





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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Calling Bloggers & Reviewers


For all you book bloggers or reviewers in the audience, NAILED - the second novel in the Resort to Murder Mystery series, is available through Netgalley. 

Reviews from those who have read it so far:

"It will keep you hooked from beginning to end." Shelly H,

"A real page turner! It's a very well written book that keeps you hooked from the beginning till the last page.
Strongly recommended." Anna Maria G

"A very well plotted mystery set in a resort in Vail, Colorado. ...The book kept me engaged from the beginning right to the end and surprising reveal. There were no slow or boring times in this story. It kept flowing at a very good pace." Sabine F

Please check it out here: (click here).

I am happy to coordinate a giveaway &/or guest post as well.


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