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

The Secret of Karabakh

by Fidan Bagirova

Release date: April 14th, 2022  

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

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

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

“You are not who you think you are.

Your future is not what you think it will be.

You are in danger…”

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

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

#NetGalley #BookReview The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock #Historical #Fiction #Generational


Review

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare

by Kimberly Brock

Release date: April 12th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock from Net Galley and Harpers Muse.

so beautifully written that I was completely drawn in. For me it was a beautiful statement of resilience, in facing trials and tribulations and growing through the process…

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock is an interictally woven multi-generational tale with, genuinely crafted characters, atmospheric setting, and captivating plots: it is a brilliant and complex tapestry of reality, fiction, love, family, grief, joy, regret, forgiveness, discovery, resilience, and healing.  

It is the story of Alice, her daughter Penn, and the women who came before them right down to Roanoke survivor Eleanor Dare. Jumping timelines from WWII Savannah, Georgia with war widow Alice and her daughter Penn to Eleanor Dare in 1590 Roanoke.  

After losing her father to a stroke, Alice and Penn go to their ancestorial family estate “Evertell” in Savannah to see about parceling some of the land and selling it to pay for Penn’s education. Although still a working farm and mill run by a long-time employee, they had left Evertell after her mother’s death and the secrets that surrounded it. Coming back Alice fights to forget the past, help her daughter heal and repair the house so it can be sold. The more time they spend in Evertell the more the past comes to the forefront, especially when they find the commonplace book of Eleanor Dare. Penn, a curious teenager, wants to make her mark and learn where she came from despite her mother’s need to forget. Both work on uncovering their truths with the help of each other as well as friends, new and old. 

This book is not a fast placed, thrill a minute read but it is a heartfelt, mysterious, and spellbinding tale which unravels keeping the reader engaged right to the very end. It is unlike anything I have read and to be honest hard to describe but it was so beautifully written that I was completely drawn in. For me it was a beautiful statement of resilience, in facing trials and tribulations and growing through the process as well as finding family not through blood, but friendship. Although it touches on Roanoke it doesn’t delve too deeply other than discussing the legacy of the stones.

I believe this is a book you will either love or you won’t, as reading is very subjective; I personally loved this memorable book and highly recommend it. 

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

The Burning Pages

(Scottish Bookshop Mystery #7)

by Paige Shelton

Release date: April 5th, 2022  

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of the Decoy

Scandal Mountain Antiques #1

by Trish Esden

Release date: April 5th, 2022  

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

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

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

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

#NetGalley #BookReview The Recovery Agent (Gabriela Rose #1) by Janet Evanovich #Thriller #Adventure

The Recovery Agent

(Gabriela Rose  #1)

by Janet Evanovich

Release date: March 22nd, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Recovery Agent (Gabriela Rose #1) by Janet Evanovich from Net Galley , Simon & Schuster Canada &, Atria Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

an adventure filled with dangerous drug cartels, creepy cults, Incan legends, a psychotic antagonist, and snakes…. yep, lots and lots of snakes

In Evanovich’s first book The Recovery Agent in her new Gabriela Rose series we get what we expect from the prolific author. As with the author’s Stephanie Plum novels in her new series we get a feisty, fast, fun (bordering on silly at times) adventure story reminiscent of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, Romancing the Stone and the like.

Gabriela Rose, the protagonist of this new series a recovery agent hired to find missing treasures, for insurance companies and private clients uses her skills to help her hometown rebuild after a storm. A supposed descendent of the famous pirate Blackbeard Gabriela receives a call from her eccentric grandmother asking for help. Her hometown of Scoon, South Carolina, gets hit by a storm all but wiping out the city’s infrastructure and they are in desperate need of $15 million to rebuild. Her grandmother receives a message from Annie, a long dead relative, who claims to know the whereabouts of a journal that was in Blackbeard’s possession detailing the location of a long-lost buried treasure. The journal the key to finding the elusive Treasure of Lima, in particular the Seal of Solomon, was said to have been in the possession of Spanish conquistador Pizarro, who stashed it somewhere in the Incan city of Paititi.
There is one catch the journal is buried under the floorboards in a former family house in Barbados, a house she lost in a divorce, a house in possession of her Ex-husband Rafer

Gabriela leaves the comforts of her Soho condo to start her mission. First stop is Barbados to sneak into the house to retrieve the journal only to get caught by none other than her ex-husband, Rafer. Always an opportunist, Rafer pressures Gabriela to partner up with him and share what they find. After they come to a mutual agreement the head off on to an adventure filled with dangerous drug cartels, creepy cults, Incan legends, a psychotic antagonist, and snakes…. yep, lots and lots of snakes.

It is a fast-paced fun read that is for pure entertainment. If you’re looking for literary fiction, this isn’t for you however if you want a few hours of escapism replete with adventure and witty banter, then I recommend giving it a read.

#NetGalley #BookReview Under Lock & Skeleton Key (Secret Staircase Mystery #1) by Gigi Pandian #mystery #cozy #lockedroom

Under Lock & Skeleton Key

(Secret Staircase Mystery #1)

by Gigi Pandian

Release date: March 15th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Under Lock & Skeleton Key (Secret Staircase Mystery #1) by Gigi Pandian from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

As a cozy this really has it all, a complex, interesting mystery with thrill, chills and intrigue along the way….

Being a fan of Gigi Pandian’s Jaya Jones series, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to read and review Under Lock & Skeleton Key, the first book of her locked room Secret Staircase Mystery Series. Those of you familiar with the Jaya Jones series will find some homage paid to it in this newest series however it works well as a standalone.

As the book opens, we meet Tempest Raj who has recently fallen from grace as a magician in Las Vegas After a trick goes horribly wrong Tempest barely escapes with her life but loses her reputation and is publicly disgraced. After losing everything Tempest returns to her family’s home in California. Tempest’s childhood home was far from normal, she grew up in a home any kid would love, filled with secret staircases and enchanted gardens. Her family owned the Secret Staircase Construction company which specializes in hidden and unique home designs inspired by magic. Her mother, the company’s creative vision, long gone, her father struggles to keep the company afloat. When Tempest was doing well with her Las Vegas act she had been sending money home to help her family but now she is doing all she can to find a way to help them.

When the body of her stage double is found inside a long-sealed wall in her father’s current project, she feels compelled to get to the bottom of it. When strange things begin to happen to Tempest along with her look-alike’s murder it is becoming clear that Tempest is at the heart of the murder, and she must solve it before she becomes the killer’s next victim.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is a unique and extremely fun cozy mystery. I love the fact her books feature diverse, multi-faceted characters who all feel well-formed and really add to the story. As a cozy this really has it all, a complex, interesting mystery with thrill, chills and intrigue along the way….featuring some great Indian food (with recipes at the back), everything a reader could ask for. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the further adventures of Tempest Raj.

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

Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library 

Lakeside Library Mystery #2

by Holly Danvers 

Release date: February 8th, 2022  

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(3.5 Rounded up)


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

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

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

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

#NetGalley #BookReview ~The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk #bibliomystery #mystery

Review

Department of Rare Book an Special Collections Cover

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

A Novel

by Eva Jurczyk

Release date: January 25th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk from Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

…I particularly love the authentic protagonist, Leisl, whom I found to be an incredibly relatable character…

When I noticed this book on Net Galley I was thrilled, a biblio-mystery set in Toronto, what could be better? Librarian Leisl Weiss, close to retirement, has been forced to step-in as interim director of the rare books department at a Toronto university when the director, and her immediate boss suffers a stroke. One of her first items on her agenda as acting director is to prep an exhibit highlighting the incredibly rare Plantin Bible set. When she begins to tackle her duties, she cannot seem to find the rare bible volumes and begins searching everywhere, attempting to determine where her boss could have put them for safe keeping. With the department on alert, they search everywhere only to realize that the volumes are nowhere to be found in the library and must have been stolen. The image conscious president of the university is relentlessly pushing Leisl to get results to appease the many donors of the library. On the one hand he emphasizes the need for the donor’s confidence, and on the other, the need for discretion, forbidding her to involve the police. The staff begins to turn on each other and tensions mount as fingers are pointed and innuendos made. When a professor is working on a research project another book is found to be a fake adding to Leisl’s already hectic life.  Leisl, worn down and tired, makes a decision when a co-worker and friend disappears, Leisl is forced to think the unthinkable and contact the police and the investigation takes them in an odd direction.

The author is brilliant at helping the reader is gain insight into Leisl’s thoughts, in particular, about aging and feeling invisible, we see the evolution of her relationships as well as emphasis on the plight of those whose loved ones are suffering from mental illness.

I have to say debut author Eva Jurczyk doesn’t disappoint, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a well-written, authentic feeling story filled with multi-faceted characters as well as an intelligent and intriguing plot. I really enjoyed the plot, the twists, the turns which surprised me at the ending. I particularly love the authentic protagonist, Leisl, whom I found to be an incredibly relatable character. I loved this book and would highly recommend it!

#NetGalley #BookReview ~ The Greek Histories: The Sweeping #History of Ancient Greece as Told by Its First Chroniclers: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch by Mary Lefkowitz & James Romm #AncientGreece

Review

The Greek Histories Cover

The Greek Histories:

The Sweeping History of Ancient Greece as Told by Its First Chroniclers: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch

by Mary Lefkowitz & James Romm

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Release date: January 18th, 2022


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Greek Histories: The Sweeping History of Ancient Greece as Told by Its First Chroniclers: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch by Mary Lefkowitz & James Romm from Net Galley and Random House Publishing Group in order to read and give an honest review.

…Well-researched, this book is a valuable resource for those beginning their journey to understand our past…

I have recently been studying Ancient Greece and have read quite a bit from Herodotus but have always been interested in hearing from other great minds of the time. Lefkowitz and Romm have produced a wonderful introduction to four distinct and learned voices from ancient Greek historians, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch.  Each section begins with an introduction discussing the historian in question and the time before delving into details of momentous events. Each section helps the reader to step back in time and gain insight into what we know of Greek History. 

Well-researched, this book is a valuable resource for those beginning their journey to understand our past. Containing accounts of battles, plagues, and journeys, this book has it all. Each section ends with endnotes containing valuable references and includes an appendix at the end “Warfare and Battle in the Greek World” by Jon E Lendon. 

Thrilled to have had the opportunity to read and review and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the History of Ancient Greece.  I found the book interesting, and it will definitely be a book I delve back into time and again. 

#NetGalley #BookReview of Garden of Sins (#AVictorianMystery No.6) by Laura Joh Rowland #Historical #Mystery

Garden of Sins

A Victorian Mystery #6

by Laura Joh Rowland

 

Release date: January 11th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Garden of Sins A Victorian Mystery Book No. 6 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

a captivating read, I still enjoyed the twists and turns which this series is well known for

I have been a fan of Laura Joh Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series since reviewing the first entry, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I did not enjoy it quite as much as the previous books in this series, although each are fast paced, this almost seemed to have too much going on.  

The story opens with newlyweds Crime Scene Photographer, Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett traveling by train through London when the train suddenly derails. Being true to their natures Sarah and Thomas begin searching the wreckage for other survivors stumbling across the body of a woman who perished in the crash, upon closer inspection they realize that the woman was had been strangled. They immediately begin to investigate the case and when it leads them to a member of the Royal Family, Scotland Yard recruits them for a top-secret mission to uncover the truth while preserving the reputation of the monarchy. During the investigation they learn the victim was a Pinkerton detective who had traveled to England in search of a missing American heiress. Clues lead them to Cremorne Gardens, a combination of part freak show, part circus and part theatre which hides murderous secrets.  

Grittier than her previous books in the series Garden of Sins, I feel, the author overwhelms with too many incidents occurring. In addition to the investigation Sarah faces, an incident with Thomas and his ex-fiancé which places a heavy strain on their marriage, she is trying to uncover the truth and save her father who is on trial for the murder of a young woman twenty years prior, Hugh is despondent and malingering after the events from Portrait of Peril, and nasty Inspector Reid is out for vengeance doing everything he can to get Sarah to share what she knows about Jack the Ripper. Although it was not my favourite in the series it was still a captivating read, I still enjoyed the twists and turns which this series is well known for. The book is an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend. It would work as a stand-alone, however I really recommend reading the books in order.