New Read: A Letter of Mary

Since reading The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I have managed to collect much of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Earlier this year, I read the second book, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and then with the cooler weather and darker nights in October, it seemed the perfect time to pick up the third book, A Letter of Mary.

It is 1923 and Mary Russell and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, have settled into a comfortable, if slightly dull, routine on their Sussex estate. Mary with her books and translations, and Holmes with his newspaper, pipe and bees. When they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Rushkin, an archaeologist just returned from Palestine. Who leaves in Mary’s care an ancient manuscript that seems to suggest Mary Magdalene was an Apostle of Jesus…. which, if authentic, could whip up a storm of biblical proportions! Then, just days later, Mary and Holmes discover their friend has been tragically killed in a car accident, but was it really an accident?!

So much has changed since we first met lonely 15-year-old Mary, that sunny day in 1915. Now Mary is a strong, brave, intelligent grown woman, who is now an equal to the great Sherlock Holmes’ as she takes on a key role in their investigations. In this case, going undercover alone to gain the trust of a possibly dangerous suspect, Colonel Edwards: the last person known to have seen and spoken to Miss Rushkin. While Holmes goes on his own undercover mission to find out more about Miss Rushkin’s estranged sister.

Since the last book Mary and Holmes’ have married. I wouldn’t say they suddenly fell madly in love. Instead they both just finally admitted how much they need each other. The large age gap was not an issue at all for me this time, because it is so easy to see how well they suit each other. In fact, it was highly amusing to see them both going quietly stir-crazy in their comfortable, settled routine at home together; which culminates in Mary sending herself cross-eyed reading and Holmes disappearing to his office to blow things up!

Then in-steps Miss Rushkin to save their sanity, but sadly lose her life. We then witness their complicated emotions as they mourn the loss of a friend. Mary fainted at the sight of the blood splattered at the scene of this tragic death and Holmes’ anger bubbling under is cool exterior. However they can then barely hide their excitement at the thrill of picking up the scent of a crime and throwing themselves body and soul into finding justice for a good woman. What unfolds is another thrilling mystery full of secrets, danger and disguises, clues, red-herrings and theological arguments.

All in all, I thought A Letter of Mary was another nostalgic and thrilling adventure with Mary Russell and the famous Sherlock Holmes. I look forward to reading more from this series – I already have the next book, The Moor waiting on my TBR pile. Good read.

Have you read this? Or any of the other Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books?

This was also my fourth and final read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event.

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Goodbye November, Hello December 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are well? For me, this month just seems to have flown by! But that is no surprise really, as what with another busy month at work, I have also enjoyed a trip to London; a night at the theatre to see Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of the Four and a trip to the South Coast to see my mum and family. With all that going on, here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3           Non-Fiction: 1

I started the month off with the newest, dark historical fiction A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as The Plague Charmer, but it was still a very compelling delve into the past, with strong supernatural elements. Then, right at the end of the month, I finished Zombie edited by Christopher Golden, An Anthology of the Undead. Which was an interesting mixture of zombie tales from an eclectic array of popular horror, fantasy, thriller and literary authors. Both of these books would have been perfect for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII event, if only it hadn’t already finished!

In between these books, I finished off my epic read of the classic Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan for my church’s book club. Unfortunately our meeting has had to be postponed, to the new year, to give people more time to tackle this challenging book. So kudos to me that I actually managed to finish it!

Alongside theses fictions, I also read the newest The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy from the nation’s favourites The Hairy Bikers: Si King & Dave Myers. I have enjoyed all of their previous Dieter cookbooks and this is another great collection of healthy and down-to-earth recipes. In fact I have bookmarked a record amount of recipes to try!

Pick of the Month: The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy

Altogether that is four books finished, which is a good, average amount for me. During the month, I also started a history of the Theatre Royal by Michael Coren. And I am still behind on posting so there are still few reviews for you to look forward to.

In December, I look forward to school trips to Drayton Manor and to see this year’s pantomime at a local theatre. As well as all the fun of shopping, wrapping, decorating and mince pie eating on the lead up to Christmas! Hopefully amongst all that I will also be able to fit in some reading too!

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

New Books: September – November 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, it has been a while but as I have been so good and only picked up one or two new books a month, I decided to wait and combine my post for September, October and November. So here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle and shelves over the last three months:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The Master of Verona by David Blixt

First, I eagerly snapped up bargain copies of non-fiction Jane Austen at Home by one of my favourite historians, Lucy Worsley and historical fiction The Master of Verona by new-to-me author, David Blixt, from smile.amazon (UK). I have previously enjoyed Worsley’s A Very British Murder and David Blixt was recommended to me by another blogger.

The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers

Next, on a recent trip to The Works, I was thrilled to find Make It Easy, the newest Hairy Dieters’ cookbook by the nation’s favourites, The Hairy Bikers: Si King & Dave Myers. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for this, because I have loved all of their previous Dieter cookbooks. I have already started reading it and marked more healthy, down-to-earth recipes to try.

The Favourite by Ophelia Field

Also, I requested a copy of non-fiction The Favourite (The Life of Sarah Churchill) by new-to-me author, Ophelia Field, from Netgalley (UK). I have never heard of this author before, but the gorgeous cover and intriguing subject immediately drew me to it.

Front Page Murder by Peter Bartram

The Mother’s Day Mystery by Peter Bartram

Finally, I was contacted by Peter Bartram and accepted copies of Front Page Murder and The Mother’s Day Mystery, the next two books in Bartram’s nostalgic, murder mystery series. Having enjoyed the previous books in the series: Headline Murder and Stop Press Murder, I am looking forward to more adventures with ace crime reporter, Colin Crampton in 1960’s Brighton.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

New Read: Kin

After reading Lynn’s wonderful thoughts on the new, Viking murder mystery, Kin by Snorri Kristjansson, I knew I needed to read it. So I immediately requested my own copy from Netgalley, but then patiently saved it for the perfect darker, cooler days of autumn to read it.

In the summer of 970, legendary Viking warlord, Unnthor Reginsson has reached the winter of his years, he’s sixty-two, and has long since retired from raiding. Now Unnthor lives quietly at his farm, Riverside, with his wife, Hildigunnur, their adoptive daughter, Helga and his sworn brother Jaki and his son, Einar. Both Unnthor and his wife are well-respected in the valley and surrounding area, but as much as he denies it, rumours and gossip persists of a large treasure horde secretly buried on his land. All of which is to bubble dangerously to the surface when Unnthor arranges a whole family reunion.

Through the eyes of the young, intelligent and insightful Helga, we witness the preparation and arrival of Unnthor and Hildigunnur’s grown children and their families. There are three sons: the dark, dangerous Karl; the giant Bjorn and the gentle, henpecked Aslak, and one daughter: the lithe, clever Jorunn. With the gathering of the siblings, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface, as they all make their moves on the old man’s treasure. Then one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed… kin has been slain!

I daren’t go any further with the plot in case of spoilers! What I can say is what follows is a fast, gripping and twisting murder mystery, as Helga races against time to solve this terrible crime, before an innocent is blamed and there can be anymore bloodshed. As an adoptive daughter she has a more objective view and open mind than the others, and she has a wisdom that belies her young years. Also she puts all the cunning traits she has learnt from her wise adoptive mother, Hildigunnur, to work her way through this large cast, wheedling out all their resentments and secrets.

What was a very good murder mystery, which could perhaps be transposed to any time period, was taken to a whole new level by the fantastic, historical Viking setting. The picturesque, wooded Norwegian valley, with the Riverside farm and longhouse nestled within, where life is quiet, isolated and closely tied to the seasons. Then the reunion explodes this life apart with the busy, continuous slaughtering of animals, making beds, cooking food, bringing up the best wine and ale, and entertaining guests. We also have the chance to see traditional Norse games, sports and a blood sacrifice to the gods.

Overall I thought Kin was an excellent Viking murder mystery, which shows a different side to the raiding and pillaging Vikings. On finishing this book, I discovered that it is the first in a planned series, so I look forward to reading more of Helga Finnsdottir’s adventures. Great read.

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

Have you read this? Or any other Viking books?

This was also my third read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event.

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

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

  1. Cauldstane by Linda Gillard – A book with all the things I love: mystery; romance; history; a big, old house and a touch of the paranormal.
  2. Stop Press Murder by Peter Bartram – A page-turning, nostalgic murder mystery, with ace crime reporter, Colin Crampton in 1960’s Brighton.
  3. Kin by Snorri Kristjansson –  A dark, intense Viking murder mystery, which is the first book in a planned series, so I look forward to more!
  4. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King – The third nostalgic and thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery for me.

As I signed up for Peril the First level, I was aiming to read four books, so… nailed it! Although I do have a couple of reviews to catch up with, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

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

Goodbye October, Hello November 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are well? Autumn has truly arrived here in the UK and with our first snow fall in some parts, winter feels very close! It has been a very busy month at work, but I also enjoyed seeing my favourite, long-haired Scotsman, Neil Oliver do a talk on British history, and an amazing, belated birthday, trip to Warner Bros, Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter! Now here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3           Non-Fiction: 0

At the start of the month, I finished re-reading the gritty, dystopian Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in Collins’ bestselling young adult trilogy. Next I picked up the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event again, with the dark, intense Viking murder mystery, Kin by Snorri Kristjansson. The gripping first book in a planned series, so I look forward to more! Then I swiftly continued my R.I.P reading with the historical mystery, A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King, the third nostalgic and thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery for me.

Pick of the Month: Kin

Altogether that is three books finished. Another lower month, however in good news I now have only two reviews to catch up with! Over the month, I have also been reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland. So there are few reviews for you to look forward to and I will also soon be doing a round-up post for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event.

In November, I look forward to several family members’ birthdays and to going to see a stage adaptation of Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of the Four. As well as enjoying more reading, whilst snuggled up in a blanket with copious amounts of hot chocolate, as the nights draw in.

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

Re-Read: Catching Fire

Back in September, I picked up Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins which continued my planned re-read of Collins’ highly successful, young adult dystopian trilogy. A trilogy that went on to spawn a film franchise that was a massive box-office success. After enjoying the films a lot, I was excited to remind myself of the extra details in the books. (Warning: this will probably contain spoilers for the first book).

Against all the odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have both survived the Hunger Games and come home as joint winners. Katniss should be relieved, perhaps even happy, but her brave act to save them both has set a dangerous spark of hope and now there are whispers of bloody rebellion against the Capitol. To protect herself, her family and her friends from the wrath of President Snow, she must convince everyone she is just a silly girl, madly in love with Peeta. In love and not a rebel! Which is made hard as Peeta truly loves her, but she has complicated feelings for her longtime friend Gale.

Again I really felt for Katniss, because she is a young woman who finds her life and love taken out of her control. While she has true affection for both Peeta and Gale, the real truth is she isn’t ready to fall in love with anyone. (Although for me it would hands down be Peeta!). However the show must go on, so Katniss and Peeta find themselves packed off on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour of the districts. Where they must come face-to-face with the people of the other tributes that did not live, some of whom they killed or failed to save, like little Rue. And with all eyes on them, they can make no wrong move or the consequences could be horrifying.

Then, if it didn’t seem bad enough for Katniss, The Capital announces the 75th Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games that happens every twenty-five years. The shocking twist for this Quarter Quell is that the ‘tributes’ will be chosen from the existing pool of winners. Even on re-reading it was heartbreaking as realisation dawns that Katniss is the only female to ever win from District 12. It would seem someone has it in for her! And so with stomachs churning we witness Katniss enter the arena for the second time. Can she possibly beat the odds and win for a second time?!

Again Catching Fire is a gritty, dystopian young adult adventure, full of hardship, danger, love, death, friendship and courage; that has lost known of its edge or shock on re-reading it. I am now intrigued to move on to a re-read of the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, because I was a little disappointed with it first time around. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?