New Read: Best Left in the Shadows

Best Left in the Shadows

After having read A Reaper of Stone and Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King, which I really enjoyed, I decided I had to read more! So I returned to the kingdom of Aedaron with Best Left in the Shadows, that is the 1st novella in the crime noir thread to this epic series.

Magistrate Inspector Daxton Ellis is brought down into Lowside, the poor and dangerous underworld of the city, looking for answers. A girl has been beaten and murdered, this wouldn’t normally raise much attention in Lowside – it is a regular occurrence in fact – but this is no ordinary girl. She is a true blood girl from Highside, a daughter of wealthy and powerful parents and a direct descendant of the First Ascended. Magistrate Dax is charged with bringing those responsible to justice quietly and discreetly. To do this he is forced to call upon the streetwise Lowsider and former flame Alys for help.

I loved the love/hate, tension filled but also playful chemistry between Dax and Alys; it helped to lighten this dark, crime tale for me. Dax and Alys originally met and dated during their time training in the academy, when they were young, naïve and idealistic. All grown up, they’ve come to believe that a true blood guy and a Lowside gal can never be. Although secretly I think Dax is still pretty idealistic but he is also acutely aware of his station and responsibilities. Alys on the other hand is a free, kick-ass spirit who has learnt how to play and survive in this dangerous world – a world that Dax can’t break into without her help.

This is the 3rd novella I have read by the new dynamic duo, Mark Gelineau and Joe King, and it is perhaps my favourite so far too. I love how Gelineau and King say they came together to write the Echo of the Ascended series in homage to all the classic, epic fantasy tales and great heroes of their childhood. In this crime noir thread to this epic series, it was exciting to see a different, darker and seedier side to the kingdom of Aedaron; set in the Lowside of the city rather than, in the previous books, out in the large, isolated march lands. I really am impressed by the character description and fantastic world building Gelineau and King have managed to achieve in these novellas.

Best Left in the Shadows was an intriguing fantasy/crime noir adventure which I just sped through! I can’t wait to continue reading this series with Civil Blood. Great read.

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

Have you read this? Or any of the other Echo of the Ascended novellas?

Once Upon a Time X – #4

Re-Read: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

The Quiche of Death

At the end of February I indulged in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M C Beaton. It has been many years, since I read a few of these books then recently I picked up books 1-9. So now I look forward to getting properly stuck into this cosy, crime series.

Smart dressing, high-flying PR guru Agatha Raisin decides to take early retirement and quit London to live her lifelong dream to live in a picture perfect Cotswold village. Feeling lonely, Agatha decides to catch the attention of her new neighbours by winning the quiche making competition and to make sure she wins she enters a quiche bought from a famous London deli! The revelation that she cheated is be the least of Agatha’s problems when the competition’s judge is found poisoned…and she is now the prime suspect! This forces Agatha to turn amateur sleuth to track down the real poisoner to clear her name.

Agatha isn’t an instantly likeable character, although she is very amusing! In her role as the boss of a highly successfully PR company Agatha has become sharp, bossy, cajoling and completely work focused; leaving little to no time for relaxing and socialising. Once in the quiet, picturesque village of Carsely Agatha has no idea what to do with herself! Hence why she launches herself into winning the quiche competition and subsequently trying to discover the murderer. Through this we start to see Agatha’s more likeable side which is also brought out even more by her unlikely, new friendships with the vicar’s wife Mrs Bloxby and Detective Constable Wong.

In this re-read, it was a pleasure to return to the charming village of Carsely and it’s eclectic mix of inhabitants, and to reunite with amateur sleuth, Agatha for her first investigation. Crime is one of my favourite genres however I don’t always want all that gore and gritty realism. It is times like this when a cosy crime like this (and other novels by M C Beaton) are perfect; curl up in a blanket, with a cup of tea and enjoy. Simple, fun escapist reading.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death was a quick, fun and comforting re-read. I look forward to re-reading Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet next. Good read.

Have you read this? Do you enjoy cosy crime?

New Read: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King, the first Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, has been on my to-be-read pile for far too long! I picked it up a few years ago after starting to read/love Doyle’s classic Holmes stories. Finally taking part in the What’s in a Name event 2016 has encouraged me to read it.

One cool, sunny day in 1915 Mary Russell is taking a walk over the Sussex Downs with her nose firmly planted in a book – where she almost tramples an eccentric gentlemen who is out on the Downs counting bees. This eccentric gentlemen is none other than Sherlock Holmes, the renowned private detective, who in his retirement has moved to the country and taken up bee keeping. They immediately strike up an unlikely friendship. Under Holmes’ tutelage Mary begins to grows in knowledge, strength and confidence until she is able to solve some dastardly crimes herself.

When we first meet Mary Russell that sunny day in 1915 she is only 15 years old. Tragically her parents and brother were killed in a car crash leaving her a wealthy orphan. As she is not of age though she must suffer her unpleasant aunt living with her as her guardian. Her friendship with Holmes gives her an escape from her loneliness and boredom. While the age gap is a little creepy when you think about it I didn’t mind because their personalities suited each other so well. I enjoyed watching Mary grow physically and as a character – until she is 19 years old, studying at Oxford University and ready to start helping Holmes fight crime; because Holmes wouldn’t know how to completely retire even if he wanted too.

One of the first crimes Mary and Holmes tackle is the kidnapping of an American Senator’s young daughter while holidaying in Wales. This crime had everything I could have hoped for: an isolated setting, secrets, danger and Mary and Holmes go incognito as Romany travellers; brilliant! Mary and Holmes learn a lot from this first crime together which will stand them in better stead for when they face real danger to themselves and their friends later in the novel. The first half of this book was slower but once we hit the real danger and mystery I had trouble putting this down!

Since I bought this book I have really fallen in love with Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes novels and short-stories. While I don’t feel Holmes was the main protagonist of this book, I do think Laurie R King has drawn him well – he is older, in a new situation and solving new crimes but I always felt what King had him do and say was believable. I think I will always prefer Doyle’s classic stories however I did thoroughly enjoy getting to join Holmes in more adventures through King in this book. I would definitely be interested in reading more from this series and King.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was a comforting, nostalgic and thrilling adventure for me, which helped me to escape the dreary weather of January. Good read.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other spin-off Sherlock Holmes books?

What’s in a Name 2016 – A Profession (1/6)

The Classics Club: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

I enjoyed reading The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle in September so much that I barely managed to wait a month before going back for another mystery. Next I picked up The Hound of the Baskervilles, the third Sherlock Holmes novel.

Dr James Mortimer comes to Sherlock Holmes with a legend of a diabolical hound out on the moors that hunts all the Baskerville descendants, in revenge for a murderous past deed. Mortimer has lived many years out on the moors and had never taken much store in these superstitions before until the shocking death of his good friend, Sir Charles Baskerville. He hopes Holmes’ can get to the truth and protect Henry; the heir and last remaining Baskerville. Holmes is intrigued by the case but is busy working on another so he puts his trust in Dr Watson. Who returns with Mortimer and Henry to the lonely Baskerville Hall on Dartmoor to investigate further.

I loved getting to explore this intricate and supernatural mystery with Dr Watson. As much as I enjoy the workings of Holmes’ mind and find his eccentricities fascinating. It is Holmes’ companion Dr Watson I am most drawn to. The down-to-earth narration of Watson is what makes these stories more relatable for me. To have a whole investigation where he took the lead was wonderful. Holmes isn’t too far away though because Watson is in constant contact with him and it is through these letters we see a lot of the facts unfold. There is also a twist to come later in the book!

I think this may now be my favourite Holmes mystery. I loved the foggy, lonely moors, scattered with the remnants of ancient inhabitants, with the isolated Baskerville Hall stranded in the middle of it. Doyle really builds a creepy atmosphere and that is even before the hound comes on the scene, which is described as large, dark and vicious by any locals who have had the misfortune to see it. Plus it seems to be able to frighten you to death! This was a great mystery with an interesting collection of characters who are all thrown together because of the loneliness of their situation.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a creepy and atmospheric mystery which I simply loved. A cosy and comforting read for autumn and the R.I.P event. I highly recommend to fans of Sherlock Holmes and those who enjoy classic crime. Sadly I only have The Sign of the Four  left to read. Great read.

Have you read this? What is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

The Classics Club – 36/50
R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X – 4/4

New Books: October 2015

New Books - October 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s the goodies I’ve managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride by M. C. Beaton

It has been months since I found some gems in The Works but I’ve still been going in for fear I might miss something if I didn’t. My faith paid off because they had the first four books of M C Beaton’s hilarious Agatha Raisin series plus one later book too. I really look forward to rediscovering this series. Then to make up my numbers for the 3 for £5 deal I chose Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. I haven’t read any of this series however I’ve heard great things about it.

The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien

Out of Darkness by Stormie Omartian

I received historical fiction The Queen’s Choice and Christian memoir Out of Darkness from Netgalley. Okay I have a lot of galleys and I had told myself I needed to stop requesting! But…I have read and loved several of Anne O’Brien’s and Stormie Omartian’s books over the last year or so.

Have you read anything by these authors? What new books have you got your hands on recently?

The Classics Club: The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear

My result for The Classics Club’s last Spin feature was The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle; the fourth Sherlock Holmes novel. I was pleased with this result, as I have really enjoyed previous Holmes stories. Plus with Autumn setting in, here in the UK, I thought it is the perfect time to be reading this.

This tale is broken down into two parts, like A Study in Scarlet. In the first part the famous, private detective Sherlock Holmes is still on the trail of criminal mastermind, Professor James Moriarty. During his investigations Holmes receives a coded message, that leads him to the murder of John Douglas at Birlstone Manor House. Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson set off at once to investigate further. Then in the second part we are taken back 20 years. To Vermissa Valley, USA to see the events that led to this murder.

As in previous Holmes stories I just loved delving into Doyle’s intricate mystery and witnessing the chemistry between his two protagonists.  As much as I find the workings of Holmes’s mind and eccentricities fascinating. It is Holmes’s companion Dr Watson I am most drawn to. The down-to-earth narration of Watson is what makes these stories more relatable for me. In this mystery it was good to see Watson play an integral part and get a chance to uncover evidence for himself.

Through The Classics Club I have enjoyed all five Holmes short-story collections. Years before the club I read A Study in Scarlet; the only other Holmes novel I have read. I have preferred the short-story format, because I was able to read a whole story in one go. Easily keeping the thread of the mystery, and all the twists and turns. However now having read this I feel I might have been a bit hard on the novel format. Doyle has very cleverly broken the mystery into two parts. The first part is very similar to his short-story; it contains just the mystery. The difference being that then part two gives you the history and background to the mystery. I thought it helped the reader to get to know the victims and criminals of the mystery too. By the end of this I found I enjoyed it as much, if not a bit more than some of the short-stories.

The Valley of Fear was another fascinating mystery, which I flew through. Perfect for Autumn. I highly recommend to fans of Sherlock Holmes and those who enjoy classic crime. I look forward to reading The Sign of the Four and The Hound of the BaskervillesGreat read.

Have you read this? What is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

The Classics Club – 34/50
R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X – 1/4

Adaptations: May 2015

Adaptations #2

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Here are the adaptations I watched during May:

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
An action-packed superhero adventure based on Marvel characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and sequel to The Avengers (2012). The team must work together to defeat one of Stark’s creations, Ultron, that’s gone disastrously wrong. Another enjoyable watch with impressive special effects, high octane pace, epic fight scenes, and more amusing one liners. The regular cast are also joined by some new faces too. Good watch.

Paddington (2014)          Not Read     Film     Apple TV
British, family adventure based on Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. I haven’t read any of the stories but I have fond, childhood memories of the BBC’s Paddington series. A young bear comes to London from deepest, darkest Peru to London seeking a new home. A fun, modern adaptation of this loveable character and his comical adventures. Good watch.

The Enfield Haunting (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
British, supernatural drama based on the true life events, recounted in This House Is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair. Paranormal investigators, Grosse and Playfair, try to help a family in 1977, who are being plagued by scary phenomenon. A case which is to become known as ‘The Enfield Poltergeist’. I had heard of this case and it was fascinating to find out more about it. A ghostly, mystery with a strong ensemble cast, including Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall, I watched all 3 episodes in a row! Great watch.

City of Ember (2008)         Not Read     Film     Television
Science-fiction, family adventure based on Jeanne DuPrau’s novel. Humans have been living underground for over 200 years but as the generator starts to fail, two young friends must find a way to escape. Sadly this film was a flop at the cinema so the rest of the series wasn’t made. I enjoyed it though. It was a gentle and fun adventure, far less gritty than the more recent young adult, dystopian tales. Okay watch.

Atlantis (2015)          Read     TV Series     Television
The 2nd half of series 2 of the BBC’s fantasy adventure based on Greek mythology. The legendary hero Jason, and his friends Hercules, Pythagoras, and princess Ariadne fight evil to protect the legendary city of Atlantis. A fun and thrilling series. The only problem being they introduced the Argos and the legendary journey at the end of the series, however the show has just been axed…so we will never know! I will miss this series. Good watch.

Inspector George Gently (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
The 7th series of British, crime drama based on Alan Hunter’s Gently novels. I love the atmospheric and nostalgic 1960’s setting which is brought to life so realistically in this series. I also love the relationship between Gently, his sergeant Bacchus, and PC Rachel Coles, wonderfully portrayed by Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby and Lisa McGrillis. Great watch.

May has been a really good month of films and TV shows. I have enjoyed old favourites like Paddington, Atlantis and Gently, and then new discoveries too. These are just the adaptations I finished though. I am still watching the 4th series of Grimm and the 5th series of Game of Thrones. Plus I have the 2nd series of Sleep Hollow and Penny Dreadful, and the BBC’s new drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to start. I look forward to sharing with you what I watch in June.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching recently?