New Read: Season of Storms

Mid-Autumn felt like the perfect time to pick up another of Susanna Kearsley’s wonderful mystery novels: Season of Storms. Kearsley is one of my favourite authors – I simply love how her writing style is so comforting and familiar for me, like a favourite jumper. Sadly though it has been over a year since I read my last of her novels: Named of the Dragon!

In the early 1900s, in the elegant and isolated villa Il Piacere, Italy, the playwright Galeazzo D’Ascanio is inspired to write his most stunning and original play, for the beautiful, English actress Celia Sands: his love and muse. However the night before she was to take to the stage in the leading role, Celia disappeared. Now, decades later, Alessandro D’Ascanio is preparing to stage his grandfather’s masterpiece, and another young, beautiful English actress, who shares Celia Sands’ name, has agreed to star. Within a theatre in the grounds of Il Piacere, not only will Galeazzo’s play come back to life but so will secrets and ghosts from the past.

Initially, our protagonist the ‘new’ Celia Sands is reluctant to take the job because she has long avoided using her famous name to boost her fledgling career. Instead she has been known as Celia Sullivan so as to make it in her own right; which you can only admire her for. She only agrees when she learns that this is to be her old friend, Rupert’s last directorial role before he retires. Rupert and his partner Brian have been surrogate parents to Celia since she was a small girl, while her glamorous actress mother has flitted from place to place and man to man. They are joined in the production by dashing stage manager Den O’Malley; the famous actress Madeleine Hedrick and the roguish actor Nicholas Rutherford (Madeleine’s lover).

As soon as Celia stepped into the large, decadent and labyrinthine villa Il Piacere, with its impeccable gardens; stunning lake views and its handsome, compelling and compassionate master, Alessandro, I was completely swept away! Even more so when its past secrets start resurfacing and though Celia knows she should let the past go, in the dark, as she dreams, it comes back none the less; as if the first Celia is reaching out to her. Again I think Kearsley has weaved a mystery full of history, theatrical details, stunning settings, and a touch of romance and the supernatural. My only niggle would be the end which was a little anticlimactic, however there is reason for there not being a grand reveal so it really is only a minor niggle.

Overall, I found Season of Storms to be a wonderfully immersive and gripping mystery, that took me away from the cold and wet of the UK. I really must not allow another year to go by before I read more by Kearsley, and there is no excuse to either as I have The Firebird on my to-be-read pile, as well as a new copy of, my favourite, The Rose Garden lined up for a re-read. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you read any of Susanna Kearsley’s other novels?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 4/4

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Challenge: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII (End)

Having said goodbye to October, we also have to say goodbye to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII reading event, hosted this year by Heather and Andi from Estella’s Revenge and My Capricious Life. Here’s what I managed to read:

  1. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M C Beaton – Another quick, fun and comforting mystery with our Agatha from Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series; my go-to for comfort. Good read.
  2. Resthaven by Erik Therme – An easy-to-read, fast paced, young adult thriller that sees a group of teenage girls trapped inside an old abandoned retirement home, which I just zipped through. Okay read.
  3. Assassination at Bayou Sauvage by D J Donaldson – A deeply engrossing, audacious mystery with Andy Broussard and Dr Kit Franklyn in the colourful New Orleans, which I loathed to put down and absolutely whipped through. Great read.

As I signed up for Peril the First level, I was aiming to read four books. Sadly I didn’t quite make four by the end of October, however I have just finished my fourth read, Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley. So overall I don’t feel I did too bad.

Did you take part in this event? Have you been reading anything dark, creepy or mysterious recently?

New Read: Assassination at Bayou Sauvage

After reading Blood on the Bayou by D. J. Donaldson last year, I was eager to read more from this series. So I was absolutely thrilled when I was offered a copy of Assassination at Bayou Sauvage back in April. (Although this is a series, it is suggested that these books can be enjoyed as stand alones too).

As we moved deeper into Autumn, I felt it was the perfect time to join chief medical examiner, Andy Broussard and criminal psychologist, Dr Kit Franklyn for another mystery in the colourful New Orleans. While Broussard is left reeling from the shocking shooting of his uncle Joe at a family picnic, Kit has to step up to investigate the disappearance of a young woman. Soon what seemed like two clear cut cases is thrown into doubt, as Kit’s first solo efforts soon lead back to the murder of Uncle Joe. Sensing the horrendous magnitude of this case, Broussard has to try to move past his emotions to help his colleagues and friends to uncover the truth before it’s too late!

Again Donaldson immediately drew me in and completely immersed me into this detailed, meticulous and graphic, although I felt it was never gratuitous, mystery. It was also great to reunite with Broussard and Kit, who already seem like old friends to me. Although the narration is still split evenly between these two protagonists, it definitely felt like this was more Kit’s investigation; who is temporarily deputized to help the NOPD cope with a work slow-down. This gives Kit the opportunity to really show what she can do intellectual, physically and mentally, as she is pushed to her limits by not just the case but also by the bullies who support the slow-down.

What I also really loved again was the setting – I have always had a fascination with the Deep South of the USA, especially after watching the first series of HBO’s True Detective, and these books play right into that. In fact, the setting almost becomes another character because it is that good and integral to the story. I thought Donaldson brilliantly brought to life the setting and totally made me feel like I was there: feeling it’s hot, humid weather; eating its delicious food; meeting the colourful, eclectic people; and travelling to the smaller communities out in the crocodile infested wetlands.

Overall, I found Assassination at Bayou Sauvage to be another deeply engrossing, audacious mystery which I loathed to put down and absolutely whipped through. I would definitely like to read more Broussard and Franklyn mysteries. Great read.

Thank you to the publicist for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other mysteries set in the Deep South?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 3/4

Goodbye October, Hello November 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? Now we are well into Autumn, my favourite season, I have enjoyed wearing my comfy boots and scarves; drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate and snuggling up with comforting and mysterious books. On top of that, I went with my class on their residential, outdoor school trip and I took part in a Fit Steps class led by the lovely Ian Waite (Strictly and It Takes Two)! However getting back to books, here is what I read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 2

Over the best part of the month, I indulged in a comforting re-read of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, the second magical book in Pullman’s ever popular trilogy: His Dark Materials. After this I continued my reading for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, as I zipped through Assassination at Bayou Sauvage by D J Donaldson, another deeply engrossing mystery with Andy Broussard and Kit Franklyn in New Orleans.

Alongside these fictions, I also read two non-fictions. First I lost myself in Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir, a fascinating history of the early Medieval queens. Then on the last day of the month, I finished Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka, in which I have sticky noted lots of great looking veggie soup and stew recipes I fancy trying.

Pick of the Month: Assassination at Bayou Sauvage

Altogether that is four books completed in October – an average amount for me but the quality was particularly high. Through out the month, I continued to dip in and out of the classic North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Also at the end of the month, I find myself a good way into Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley and I have started Christian non-fiction Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung, for the return of my church’s book club next month.

In November, I look forward to celebrating Bonfire Night and my mum’s and stepdad’s birthdays. Oh and hopefully lots more reading too!

What did you do and read in October? What are your plans for November?

Re-Read: The Subtle Knife

This month, I indulged in a comforting re-read of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, the second book in Pullman’s ever popular trilogy: His Dark Materials. (There is a chance of spoilers so if you are unfamiliar with this series I recommend you read my thoughts on the first book: Northern Lights).

After following her father over the bridge he created, Lyra finds herself alone in a new world, where the adults have disappeared; soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels. There she meets Will, a boy on the run from his world, and together they go searching: Lyra for the meaning of Dust and Will for his missing father, but what they find instead is a deadly secret, a knife of untold power. From then on their lives, their loves, and their destinies are to become irrevocably intertwined.

Again it was another complete joy to re-immerse myself back into this second magical adventure with the headstrong Lyra and her new ally Will. While I love Lyra she can be a wild, spontaneous and selfish character, so the addition of the practical, kind and selfless Will brings a nice balance. At first they very reluctantly work together as the only strangers in this new, strange world, but they do go on to form a true friendship as they travel between this new world and Will’s world, which is very similar to our own world with no daemons or Magisterium.

However The Magisterium is not completely forgotten as Mrs Coulter has also found a way to travel between worlds and has some new, deadly allies too. For this reason the religious element is smaller and more subtle in this book, although you can see it building again as the angels are flying north to Lord Asriel, who is recruiting from many different worlds a large army to fight ‘The Authority’. There are not only baddies though, Lyra’s friends the witch queen Serafina Pekkala and the aeronaut Lee Scoresby come to her and Will’s aid. Even though this was a re-read, there was a lot of this detail that I’d forgotten – it was lovely to get re-acquainted with it all.

Overall, I loved my re-read of The Subtle Knife and I look forward to finishing the trilogy with The Amber Spyglass soon. Great read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Philip Pullman?

What’s in a Name 2017 – 5/6 (a title with an item/s of cutlery)

New Read: Resthaven

At the end of September, I decided to continue my Autumn themed reading for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII event with the young adult thriller Resthaven by Erik Therme; which had been on my Kindle for too long!

As the new kid in town, Kaylee feels isolated and awkward, so the last thing she wants to do is go to a sleepover with girls she barely knows, let alone likes. Things only get worse when it turns out the queen bee Jamie has arranged a scavenger hunt inside the old abandoned retirement home, Resthaven, which sits right on the edge of town. After an explosive argument the girls all split off separately around the dark empty building…but Kaylee soon discovers that they’re not alone and to top it off the front doors have been mysterious padlocked from the outside! Now Kaylee must find everyone and try to find another way out before it’s too late.

Our narrator Kaylee is joined on this disastrous scavenger hunt by the sensitive Anna, who invited her, the silent Wren, the ditzy Sidney and the bullying Jamie. The problem was I didn’t really like any of them! As stereotypical teenage girls they were all hormonal and seemed to take it in turns to be selfish, thoughtless, insensitive and downright hurtful to each other, including our heroine Kaylee. So sadly I can’t say I found myself rooting for any of them!

Fortunately, Therme has written a tight story with pacey action scenes, twists and turns, and an element of surprise or two. Therefore I certainly wasn’t left bored and I was drawn to keep reading to find out more. As we read on we also learn more of the back stories of each girl, which does help to explain their current behaviour and attitudes, even if it doesn’t completely justify them. Plus of course there is the other person/s in the locked building with them that adds tension, mystery and a real sense of danger.

So overall, shame about the characters but otherwise I thought Resthaven was an easy-to-read, fast paced, young adult thriller which I just zipped through. It was also a very good fit for the R.I.P event. Okay read.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or anything else for the R.I.P event?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 2/4

New Read: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage

After enjoying four comforting re-reads, I was excited to read new-to-me Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M C Beaton, the fifth book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series. (If you are unfamiliar with this author and series you may instead want to read my thoughts on the first book: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death).

Our smart dressing, retired-PR executive Agatha Raisin believes all her dreams are about to come true, as the morning of her marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. However before the service can be completed, Agatha’s presumed dead husband, Jimmy Raisin, turns up very much alive and kicking! In embarrassment James storms off and Agatha is left mortified. Things are only to get worse though, when Jimmy is discovered dead the next morning, Agatha and James are the prime suspects. So they will have to reluctantly work together again to catch the real murderer to clear their names.

Our formerly sharp, bossy and cajoling Agatha has reached her lowest point ever. Now embarrassed and heart sore she cares little for maintaining her usual immaculate appearance and strong outer persona, which in fact only makes her more endearing to the reader, her friends and secretly even James Lacey too. Personally not being a huge fan of the distant James, I wasn’t all that bothered when the marriage was stopped, but I was upset when the young Detective Sergeant Wong’s head is turned by the ambitious Detective Constable Maddie Hurd; who he believes is the one?! Fortunately, Mrs Bloxby is as steadfast and lovely as ever!

As with my re-reads, it was an absolute pleasure to return to the charming village of Carsely, but this time for an all new crime and a more personal although still rather eccentric and bumbling investigation with Agatha. I love a good murder mystery, however I don’t always want all that gore and gritty realism, which is when a cosy-crime like this is perfect. These aren’t ground breaking books, instead they are grab a mug of tea, curl up and simply enjoy kind of books. They are rapidly becoming my go-to-books for comfort.

Overall, I thought Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage was another quick, fun and comforting read. Next up is Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read any other cosy-crime recently?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 1/4