#NetGalley #Book #Review The Unkindness of Ravens (A Greer Hogan Mystery #1) by M. E. Hilliard #Mystery #Library

Review

The Unkindness of Ravens

A Greer Hogan Mystery #1

by M. E. Hilliard

Release date: April 13th, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

4.5 rounded up


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Unkindness of Ravens, A Greer Hogan Mystery #1
by M. E. Hilliard from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

 “…a clever suspenseful mystery that is intriguing and highly entertaining…”

Atmospheric and suspenseful, The Unkindness of Ravens is a brilliant debut from author M.E. Hillard.  

Librarian Greer Hogan is a lifelong fan of mysteries, beginning with the likes of Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. After the murder of her husband Greer goes from Corporate New York Executive to small town Raven Hill Librarian looking for a fresh start. Her fresh start comes to an abrupt end when she stumbles across the body of her best friend Joanna Goodhue in the library’s hidden stairwell. Although initially she becomes a suspect, the police declare Joanna’s death an accident. Greer’s memories of her husband’s murder combined with her intuition tell her there is much more to the story, and channeling her literary heroes, Greer puts her researching skills to effective use, determined to find justice for her friend. When she begins asking too many questions, she catches the attention of the killer putting herself in their path.  

I loved everything about the book, the literary references, a strong female protagonist, and a creepy Gothic mansion turned Raven Hill Library, which with its secret passages and creepy portraits becomes a character in itself.  

Reminiscent of Agatha Christie, M.E. Hilliard has crafted a clever suspenseful mystery that is intriguing and highly entertaining. The plot although a little slow to develop was filled with twists and suspenseful turns, I could not put it down. A must read for those who enjoy mysteries. I loved it and would highly recommend it. 

#NetGalley #BookReview The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2) by Ambrose Parry #Historical #Victorian #Mystery

Review
The Art of Dying
Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2
by Ambrose Parry

Release date: March 2nd, 2021
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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2) by Ambrose Parry from NetGalley and publisher, Canongate/Black Thorn in order to read and give an honest review.

“… a well-written novel, rich in historical details, it contains a brilliant mix of fact with fiction making it an engaging read… ”

Will Raven has spent the past couple of years in Europe training to become an obstetrician. When a violent attack in Germany causes him to kill a man he decides to return to Edinburgh. Will returns under the employ as an assistant to Dr. James Young Simpson, known for his groundbreaking expertise on anesthetizing surgical patients. Upon the return not much has changed except Sarah Fisher, the former housemaid and Will’s former love is no longer a servant but now the married assistant to Dr. Simpson. Will after leaving Sarah, as she was considered unsuitable to be a Dr’s wife, is weighed down by his regrets. Sarah has done well for herself, married to Dr Bates she has become well respected at her job, defying the confines that women were faced with during Victorian times.

When several patients from one family die questions arise as to what may have been the culprit. With Dr. Simpson’s reputation is in question Will and Sarah become obsessed with clearing his name. When it appears that they might have discovered a new disease Will excitedly pursues his theory one that could be the making of his career. With Sarah’s assistance he begins to delve into the origins of the disease, but the clues begin to lead them into another direction…the evidence suggests that the deaths were not natural at all but the work of an elusive serial killer. Faced with constant misdirection, regret and plagued with enemies from his past Will has his work cut out for him.

Although, I did not read the previous book in the series, “The Way of All Flesh” in my opinion “The Art of Dying” was perfect as a stand-alone. The authors give just enough background to pivotal moments from the previous book in a way that does not overwhelm or seem unnecessary.

Fast paced and intelligent, I thoroughly enjoyed The Art of Dying. Written by husband-and-wife team Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman under the pen name of Ambrose Perry, this is a well-written novel, rich in historical details, it contains a brilliant mix of fact with fiction making it an engaging read that will keep you flipping pages.

#NetGalley #BookReview of In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #TrueCrime

In the Garden of Spite

A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte

by Camilla Bruce

Release date: January 19th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of In the Garden of Spite:A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce from NetGalley & Berkley Publishing Group in order to read and give an honest review.

… the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer…

This will be a challenging book for me to review I’m giving it a 3.5 but rounding it up to 4 stars. Part of me loved this book, but part of me, well… For the positives, Camilla Bruce does such a fantastic job fictionalizing the story of a real-life serial killer Little Brynhild / Bella Sorenson / Gunnes aka “The Black Widow of La Porte”. Well-written for the most part, the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer. Bruce’s characters were brilliantly brought to life, perhaps in the case of Bella, a little too well. On the negative side, although I do not shy away from dark books this was even a bit much for me. Warning for those faint of heart, this novel contains graphic violence, murder, dismemberment, sex, arson, child abuse and infanticide. I also found at times it was slow and repetitive which made it a struggle to get into. The novel follows Little Brynhild/Bella through her young teenage years and into her middle age. We learn about a heartbreaking ordeal she experiences as a young teenager in Norway that leaves wounds that fester driving her to inflict damage onto all those who get close to her. The disconnect she feels towards her family and a rage that she cannot contain, drives Little Brynhild to leave the misery of Norway to join her sister Nellie in America. In America she takes the name Bella Sorenson and is disappointed in her first experience. Bella longs to make a happy and successful life for herself, constantly seeking acceptance from those in her adopted community. Having struggled for respect in Norway she knows what she wants and what she must do to reach the status she desires for her future. Bella is determined to be the perfect self-made, powerful woman and will go to any length, taking matters into her own hands in order to get what she feels she is due. Being a fairly famous news story, many people who follow true crime are aware of this famous female serial killer, but the author manages to get inside this monster’s head offering the reader a glimpse of what could have driven this woman to such destruction. It is a well-written engaging fictional interpretation of the workings of this woman’s mind, but it was a little too graphic for my taste, nevertheless an intriguing read.

#NetGalley #Book #Review of Portrait of Peril (#AVictorianMystery No.5) by Laura Joh Rowland #Historical #Mystery

Portrait of Peril

A Victorian Mystery #5

by Laura Joh Rowland

Release date: January 12th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Portrait of Peril, A Victorian Mystery Book No. 5 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend…

I love Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series, each are fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits set in Victorian England, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all of the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous books in this series.  

In this story, we join Crime Scene Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett getting ready to start their lives together as a married couple. They face some expected challenges, Sarah and her new Mother in-law are at odds, they are trying to traverse living together for the first time but when Sarah’s mentor is found dead at the church on the day it’s hosting their wedding it might just end their marriage before it begins. The victim Charles Firth helped Sarah when she was just starting out. In the years since he’s become a fairly well-known spirit photographer with a healthy book publishing contract but not without his critics. Firth is known for his portraits of ghosts and spirits of the dearly departed, often swindling the deceased’s loved ones. When a second murder occurs and her dear friend and colleague Mick is arrested for the crime, Sarah, Barrett, and her half-sister Sally, are compelled to find how who the real murderer is and clear his name.  

The usual cast of characters are present…. for the most part. Hugh, Sarah and Mick’s friend and colleague is taking his break-up from Tristan very poorly, becoming self-destructive with bouts of disappearing, leaving everyone to worry in an already challenging time. Sarah and Sally are also trying to clear their fugitive father’s name but not without their nemesis Inspector Reid watching their every move and waiting to pounce.  

Although I found this one a bit slow to start and I really didn’t find Hugh’s story line appealing I really enjoyed the twists, 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. 

#NetGalley #Review The City of Tears by Kate Mosse #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

Book Review

The City of Tears

 (The Burning Chambers #2)

by Kate Mosse

Release date: January 5th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The City of Tears by Kate Mosse from NetGalley and Publishers Group Canada/Pan Macmillan to read and give an honest review.

… brilliant and intricate tapestry of murder, religion, insanity and greed…

The follow up to the first book in the series The Burning Chambers, The City of Tears continues the dramatic saga surrounding the Joubert family. Ten years after The Burning Chambers, Minou and Piet have settled down with their family on their beautiful estate in the south of France. They are busy making plans to attend the royal wedding of Margot and Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre hoping to establish a peaceful alliance between the Catholics and the Huguenots. Before their journey begins they are faced with an assassination attempt and the death of a beloved family member, however they venture to Paris to bear witness to such an important event in hopes it will end the persecution of the Huguenots.

The wedding happens as planned, lending hope for a peaceful future. While in Paris a mysterious woman reaches out to Piet, rumours come to light, and a violent nemesis from his past has Piet and his family once again in his crosshairs. Before they leave Paris for their arduous journey home, their daughter Marta goes missing as a violent coup known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre breaks out shattering their family forever and forcing them to flee to Amsterdam abandoning all they knew and loved.

I am a fan of Kate Mosse she has a talent for bringing her historical stories to life through vivid description, interesting characters and her interwoven, dynamic plots, this book is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed this book it is a brilliant and intricate tapestry of murder, religion, insanity, and greed; I highly recommend.

#NetGalley #Book #Review of After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore #Gothic #Historical #Suspense

 

Review

After Alice Fell

A Novel

by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Release date: March 1st, 2021

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 I received a complimentary ARC copy of After Alice Fell, A Novel by Kim Taylor Blakemore from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in order to read and give an honest review. 

“…exquisitely written, atmospheric and rife with edge of your seat suspense that kept me captivated… ” 

Author, Kim Taylor Blakemore gives us a beautifully written, suspenseful, American gothic tale brimming with family drama, secrets and liesSet in 1865, Post Civil War New Hampshire, former army nurse and newly widowed Marion Abbott is forced to move in with her newly remarried brother, Lionel and his second wife, Cathy into their old family home filled with memories. Cathy who was best friends with Lionel’s first wife Lydia is trying to establish herself as matriarch of her new family and tries hard to create a home for Marion. 

While Marion was working during the war Lionel in her absence was forced to put their mute and disturbed sister Alice in the Brawders House Asylum after he catches Alice hanging his son out of the top floor window by his ankles. When Lionel and Marion are summoned to the Asylum on scorching summer day, they learn that a despondent Alice has jumped to her death from the roof.  

Upon preparing for Alice’s funeral Marion cannot bear the condition her sister’s body is in; bruises and evidence of restraints do not sit right with Marion. Reeling from guilt and haunted by memories, Marion struggles to believe that her sister committed suicide. Marion’s thoughts are justified when she is contacted by a witness to the incident who paints a vastly different picture that the one her family had been given. 

Marion is convinced more than ever that Alice’s death was not of her own doing. Driven by sisterly love and overwhelming regret Marion is determined to get to the bottom of what happened even if it puts her in danger of a similar fate.  

I have been a fan of Kim Taylor Blakemore since I read and reviewed her novel the “The Companion” and true to form she has not disappointed with “After Alice Fell”.  Both books have been exquisitely written, atmospheric and rife with edge of your seat suspense that kept me captivated to the very last page. 

#NetGalley #BookReview ~ After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy #Mystery

Review

After All I’ve Done

by Mina Hardy

Release date: November  10th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

...Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that is intriguing and unexpected…

While driving to the hospital for a severe gallbladder attack, Diana is involved in a major car accident that changes her life.

Although she survives it is not without complications that leave her debilitated. Broken bones, intense pain and absolutely no memory of what has happened in the time leading up to the accident her life has turned upside down. Living with her Husband and a devoted mother-in-law determined to care for her until she gets back on her feet it seems like an uphill battle. Plagued by pain, amnesia, blackouts, and bad recurring dreams Diana attempts to piece together her memories and figure out why her life-long best friend/soul sister Valerie will not talk to her and why she is filled with a sense of dread about what has happened. 

Knowing that she does not love her husband and finding out he is having an affair; she is feeling alone and helpless yet knows something horrible has led them to this point. When in her dreams she is burying something underneath a tree she wonders what she has done and why she cannot remember but knows unlocking the memories will open the door to her healing.  
 
Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that intriguing and unexpected. The plot was so intricate and in one word…twisted. I found I just could not put it down and that it kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. A must read for those who enjoy psychological mysteries. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

#NetGalley #BookReview of The Once and Future Witches Alix E. Harrow #Fantasy #Witches

Review

The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 13th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Once and Future Witches
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant…

Set in New Salem in 1893, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow follows the journey of the three Eastwood sisters: Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper. Years after their mother dies due to complications after childbirth, the sisters are separated by their monster of a Father but not before their relationship with each other had been damaged.  The sisters before being separated grew up hearing fairytales and stories of magic and witches from their grandmother Mags. After Mags dies an invisible force draws the three sisters together. An angry, bold and bitter Juniper is drawn to New Salem where the eldest sister Beatrice Belladonna, timid librarian and the unwed, strong and pregnant middle sister Agnes Amaranth are pulled to the middle of town where the three end up in the middle of a Suffragette protest. When a magical storm hits, a dark tower briefly appears, the three sisters realize that Mags’s fairytales and stories about witches might have had some truth to them, a truth which becomes their mission in life.  The sisters realize that they are not alone on their mission, uncovering powerful enemies, reforging bonds, and embracing a way of life long forgotten. 
 
I really enjoyed the novel, but it felt quite different from Ms. Harrow’s previous novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Although a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant in its way of tackling subject matter such as abuse, sexuality, racism, misogyny etc. with captivating, emotional, and heartbreaking moments (keeps tissues handy) I found some of it was hard to get through, some sections long-winded and cliché although the book still held my interest. An interesting read for those who love character driven, witchy stories with a powerful sense of sisterhood. 

#NetGalley #BookReview Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) #Historical #Mystery

Review

Deception by Gaslight

(A Gilded Gotham Mystery)

by 

Kate Belli

Release date: October 6th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Deception by Gaslight (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) by Kate Belli from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…the mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint…

Set in New York in 1888, journalist Genevieve Stewart is desperately looking to make a name for herself at her current paper the Globe. Genevieve relegated to writing about Baby Shows and the minor events of high society, she just can’t seem to get taken seriously as a journalist when an elusive jewel thief dubbed “Robin Hood” starts making an appearance, robbing from the ‘Astor 400’, the cream of the crop of New York society seems to be just the story she has been looking for. 

Although herself on the outskirts of the Astor 400 after her activist Mother creates a stir and a planned marriage to another member ends, she has found herself often ignored and pitied among high society.  Trying to make a name for herself she begins to use her connections to try and get the ‘Robin Hood’ story, the scoop of the century.  While in a seedy area of the city pursuing a lead, she is accosted by ruffians and rescued begrudgingly by a handsome stranger, Danny, only to learn Daniel McCaffrey is part of the Astor 400. Convinced that Daniel is in fact Robin Hood she sets her sites to get to the truth, but instead gets herself in the middle of murder, mayhem, and corruption at the highest levels.

Clever, complex, and very well-written, this book keeps the reader turning the pages. The author creates interesting, dynamic, and real characters who although flawed, are likeable and well developed.  I loved Genevieve’s strong and intelligent personality, as well as the clever banter that occurs between her and Daniel. The mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint.  With twists and turns, this book keeps you guessing to the very satisfying end although it does leave a cliffhanger in the epilogue. I’m now a fan of Kate Belli and certainly looking forward to reading future books in this series!