New Books: April 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I have to confess to something of a splurge this month adding all these goodies to my Kindle and bookshelf:

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham

Assassination at Bayou Sauvage by D.J. Donaldson

Being a fan of Chris Packham and after hearing such wonderful things about his memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, I was thrilled my request was approved on Netgalley. Also through Netgalley, I was pleased to receive a copy of Assassination at Bayou Sauvage, from Donaldson’s Broussard & Franklyn crime series, after I loved Blood on the Bayou.

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

The Crystal Cave

The Hollow Hills

The Last Enchantment

by Mary Stewart

The real splurge happened on Amazon.co.uk, when I discovered that all of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, which were on my wish list, and Cornick’s dual time period novel were all at a discounted price for Kindle. I still have credit on a voucher I got for my birthday which meant I just had to get them all!

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

Cold Fire by Dean Koontz

Then recently I had a good mooch in The Works and found these in the 3 for £5 deal. The Rose Garden is my favourite of Kearsley’s wonderful novels, good to have a physical copy now, and The Murder of Mary Russell is one of the newer instalments in the Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series, which I must get back to reading. While I picked up Cold Fire with my dad in mind, but I will probably read it myself too after enjoying Koontz’s Innocence.

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

New Read: Indiana Belle

Back in 2014, I read nostalgic romance The Mine from John A. Heldt’s Northwest Passage series. Being at the end of a long, tiring term, I was in the mood for another cosy, easy read, so I picked up Heldt’s Indiana Belle; a novel from his American Journey series.

In this book we meet a doctoral student Cameron Coelho, from Rhode Island, just as he opens a life-changing package from Indiana. Within he finds more than the private papers of society editor Candice Bell, that he hoped would help him with his dissertation on the roaring twenties, but he also finds enclosed a photograph of the beautiful Candice and clues to a century-old mystery. With the help of Geoffrey Bell, the “time-travel professor,” Cameron steps back to 1925 to the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz in search of love and answers.

Unlike Joel from The Mine, Cameron is an instantly likeable character as he is a kind, honest and down-to-earth chap (although he perhaps chuckles a little too much). However he is also a lonely soul. He has a few friends but no close family, after being orphaned very young and the recent deaths of his grandparents who raised him. This leaves him free of responsibility and ties to travel back in time on a mission of importance for Professor Bell, as well as a taking chance to meet the bewitching figure in the photograph. So charmed is Cameron with Candice that he desperately grapples with his conscience on whether to right a terrible wrong, when it could have dire implications for the future.

Back in 1925, Cameron travels to the rural town of Evansville, Indiana. Candice’s hometown where she is the well-known editor of the society column in the Evansville Post; she has ambitions for the crime desk though. I thought Heldt brought alive the time (one of my favourite periods) and place well – I liked the addition of the cloche hats and beaded dresses; the local drugstore selling ‘special elixirs’ and just over the river a thriving ‘speakeasy’. Under the friendly veneer though there is some tension brewing with Klan marches and an impending murder. I found myself very easily lost in it all.

Overall, I thought Indiana Belle was a highly readable, nostalgic mystery, that has nice touches of time travel and romance. In fact, I think it had all the elements I enjoyed about The Mine and none of the niggles. I look forward to reading more of Heldt’s novels. Good read.

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

Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books set in the 1920s?

Re-Read: Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener

During the miserable weather in March, I decided to indulge in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M C Beaton; the third book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series. (If you are unfamiliar with this author and series you may instead want to check out my thoughts on the first book: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death).

Our smart dressing, retired-PR executive Agatha Raisin returns from holiday to discover to her horror, that she has a new rival for the affections of her handsome neighbour, James Lacey: Mary Fortune. Mary is an attractive and glamorous divorcee, who has the whole village of Carsely in a spin over her pristine garden, delicious baking and charming conversation – how can the stocky, sharp Agatha ever compete? Then Mary is discovered murdered and macabrely planted head first in her own plant pot! Which sets Agatha off on another meddlesome, amateur investigation, where she reveals Mary was not as perfect or as well loved as she seemed.

To be fair Agatha isn’t an instantly likeable character either, although she is very amusing! As the former boss of a highly successfully PR company, Agatha became sharp, bossy, cajoling and completely work focused. Once she took early retirement and settled in the quiet, picturesque village of Carsely her softer side has started to emerge, as she experiences the kindness and friendship of the vicar’s lovely wife Mrs Bloxby and the funny Detective Constable Wong. In fact it is revealed in this horticultural mystery just how popular Agatha has now become with all the villagers, but Agatha (bless her) is still oblivious!

In this re-read, it was again an absolute pleasure to return to the charming village of Carsely; spend time with it’s eclectic mix of inhabitants and follow Agatha for another eccentric, bumbling investigation. 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. As I said before, I picked this up during a particularly wet and miserable spell of weather, and it was so comforting to tuck myself in bed with this and a mug of relaxing chamomile tea.

Overall, Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener was another quick, fun and comforting re-read. I hope to get round to a re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley soon. Good read.

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

New Books: March 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, during March these are the goodies I added to my Kindle and bookshelf:

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

First, I popped over to Amazon to order a copy of Celebration of Discipline for my church’s book club. Whilst there I spotted that The Firebird, off my wish list, was being offered for a good price, and together I could have free postage and packaging…so obviously I had to order both!

The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien

The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Then over the month, I was very lucky to receive these three historical fictions via Netgalley. I have previously enjoyed novels by Anne O’Brien, while Catherine Curzon and Conn Iggulden are new-to-me authors; although I have heard a lot of good stuff about Iggulden.

Freefall by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Finally, during a mooch around my favourite charity book shops, I snapped up a copy of this; which is book three in Gordon and Williams’ bestselling Tunnels series. I have previously really enjoyed reading the majority of this series, but I borrowed the books so I am now trying to build my own collection. Annoyingly, though I haven’t found book two yet.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books did you get in March?

Goodbye March, Hello April 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? March is another month which seems to have just flown by for me! We celebrated my dad’s birthday early on and later there was Mothers’ Day. I also watched some great adaptations and I managed another trip to the theatre; this time to see a production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Now here are the books I’ve been reading:

Fiction: 3          Non-Fiction: 1

First, I read Faith and Moonlight: Part 2 by Mark Gelineau & Joe King, which continues the young adult thread of their Echo of the Ascended fantasy series. Now, I have run out of their novellas so Mr Gelineau & Mr King please get writing! Next, I read the charming novella My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell – a bittersweet read as it was my fiftieth and final book for The Classics Club. Finally, I indulged in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M C Beaton, which is the third instalment in Beaton’s long-running cosy crime series. My full thoughts on this final book are still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions, I also read a short non-fiction about John F Kennedy from Mark Black’s A Very Brief History series; after having previously read about Richard Nixon, I thought I would keep the president theme going. My full thoughts on this book are also still to be posted.

Also during the month,  I wrapped up my epic five year Classic Club challenge with refection posts: Five Years Gone and My Top Ten Reads..

Pick of the Month: My Lady Ludlow

So altogether I’ve read four books which is a pretty average amount for me. Although, I am very close to finishing a Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster as well. I have also been intermittently re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone via audiobook (usually while I do my ironing!) and I’ve started reading Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.

In April, I am looking forward to celebrating Easter and the two week holiday that comes with it – hopefully there will be lots of time to read!

What did you do and read in March? What are your plans for April?

The Classics Club: Five Years Gone

My fellow bookworms  and classic clubbers. If you can believe it, I joined The Classics Club back on the 19th March 2012, which means today marks five years and the end of my challenge! Later in the month, I will do a top ten post for the whole challenge. For now though here is what I have read off my list in the last year:

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Phoenix and the Carpet by Edith Nesbit

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

The Story of the Amulet by Edith Nesbit

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Mr Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell


Which means I have completed…

50/50

I can’t really believe I have reached my goal and it is all over! If you had asked me five years ago, I probably would have said I am not sure I will actually read fifty books, however it would be great just to read more classics. Now I need to make the tough decision of whether I go for another fifty by making another list?! If I do it won’t be straight away as I think I deserve a little bit of a break first. For now, keep your eyes peeled for my top ten post which will be coming soon.

Have you read any of these? What classics have you enjoyed over the last year?

New Read: Faith and Moonlight: Part 2

Last year, I read and enjoyed four of Mark Gelineau’s & Joe King’s novellas from two threads of their fantasy series, Echo of the Ascended. So much so I didn’t wait long into this year to start a third thread of their epic series with Faith and Moonlight and to continue it with this: Part 2.

In the previous instalment, we were introduced to teenage orphans Roan and Kay: best friends who had travelled together to the city with hopes and dreams of entering the prestigious School of Faith, to become a legendary Razor. At the start of this instalment, passing the entry test is not the end of their trials, as they are now both thrown deep into the vigorous training regime and are tested in dangerous one-to-one combats. Through out which Roan and Kay are finding themselves growing further and further apart.

The protagonists Roan and Kay are still young, naïve and vulnerable, which gives us, the reader, the opportunity to watch them grow. It is in this second instalment where we see more clearly that these best friends are now on very different paths. Roan excels in his training and is determined to succeed, so as not to return to his brutal past. While Kay struggles with the dark, powerful magic growing within her; and fears the price she paid to get into the School of Faith may have been too high. I still definitely felt the most for Kay as Roan seems to be leaving her in his wake.

This majority of this young adult thread is set in the beautiful and serene School of Faith – a place of peace, education, power and history, with its marble buildings and lush green grass. Where there is the opportunity for fame and glory but this can come at a great cost, and in this instalment we are also introduced to the  dark, bloody fate that could await those who fail in the fighting pits. The authors, Gelineau and King, have certainly ramped up the ante with the fights, danger and power for the characters in this – I think I may have read this one even quicker than the one before!

Overall, I thought Faith and Moonlight: Part 2 continued this highly enjoyable young adult thread to this epic fantasy series very well. Sadly I have no more instalments from this series…get writing Mr Gelineau and Mr King, I want more! Good 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?