Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lady of Ashes - Christine Trent

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

First Paragraph(s):

I killed a man today, and although I didn't mean to do it, I must confess that it wasn't unpleasant at all.
     I suppose some might call it murder, but is it really murder if the victim deserved it?  If he was especially irritating?
     Unfortunately, most societies frown upon this thing called murder, so I suppose I shall have to reinvent myself.  Again.  If only one could declare the deceased an obnoxious bore or an unrepentant fool and be done with it, there wouldn't be quite so much fuss.

My Thoughts:

After completing Christine Trent's new book, No Cure For the Dead, I decided that I needed to try her series featuring a Victorian era woman who is an undertaker by profession.  Yes, this author does research some interesting and dark aspects of that most famous era.  In Lady of Ashes, we are introduced to Violet Morgan and her husband, Graham.  Actually, these two make a very brief appearance in No Cure For the Dead, which takes place a few years before.  Graham Morgan is the proprietor of Morgan Undertaking, a family business.  And Violet definitely has an affinity for the care and concern that is necessary to work with families who are grieving - plus deal with dead bodies.  I was caught up in the historical detail of Lady of Ashes.  Christine Trent has definitely done her research on Victorian society.  There is an Author Note at the end of the book which points out more info about events and also tells what she changed to fit her story.

I did like Violet Morgan a lot.  Graham Morgan - not so much.  I learned all kinds of things about not only the customs for funerals and mourning in the 1800's, but there was a lot of talk about other historical events at the time.  The reader learns about the American Civil War and how the British government viewed that conflict.  Violet meets Prince Albert at one point and makes a positive impression on him.  After Albert's death, she is summoned by Queen Victoria and required to help with his funeral.  There are also anonymous diary entries included that are written by a killer, but who?  The book was a little long, but I barely noticed.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series which has six books.  The next is Stolen Remains and I suspect it will be appearing on my Kindle soon. 


Only a woman with an iron backbone could succeed as an undertaker in Victorian London, but Violet Morgan takes great pride in her trade. While her husband, Graham, is preoccupied with elevating their station in society, Violet is cultivating a sterling reputation for Morgan Undertaking. She is empathetic, well-versed in funeral fashions, and comfortable with death's role in life--until its chilling rattle comes knocking on her own front door.

Violet's peculiar but happy life soon begins to unravel as Graham becomes obsessed with his own demons and all but abandons her as he plans a vengeful scheme. And the solace she's always found in her work evaporates like a departing soul when she suspects that some of the deceased she's dressed have been murdered. When Graham's plotting leads to his disappearance, Violet takes full control of the business and is commissioned for an undertaking of royal proportions. But she's certain there's a killer lurking in the London fog, and the next funeral may be her own.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - Wild Fire

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

This year I've caught up on author Ann Cleeves books featuring Vera Stanhope.  I now need to read her Shetland series.  The book I'm waiting on this week is the 8th (and I understand, the last) in that series:

Publication Date:  September 4th

When the Flemings—designer Helena and architect Daniel—move into a remote community in the north of Shetland, they think it's a fresh start for themselves and their children.

But their arrival triggers resentment, and Helena begins to receive small drawings of a gallows and a hanged man. Gossip spreads like wildfire.

A story of dysfunctional families and fractured relationships, Inspector Jimmy Perez's eighth case will intrigue series fans and Shetland Island newcomers alike.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

No Cure For the Dead - Christine Trent

No Cure For the Dead by Christine Trent

First Paragraph(s):

Some said I must have been possessed by a demon to take on the position as superintendent at the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness.  On exhausting days like this, I was in total agreement.
     Shaking out my hat and gloves on the stoop outside the Establishment, I determined that the smuts swirling through the London air in a never-ending cloud of ebony flakes were the most repellent thing I'd ever encountered.  They say it's even worse once winter sets in.  I had been out for a mere hour to visit my family's banker, and in my short walk to and fro had accumulated enough coal dust in my hat and on my gloves and shoulders to form a diamond.

My Thoughts:

No Cure For the Dead is the first book in Christine Trent's new series featuring Florence Nightingale and I enjoyed it so much!  You can read about how I acquired it and met the author at the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference here.  I used to read more historical mysteries, but have not picked up very many in recent years.  However, I was quite interested in hearing about them at the mystery conference.  And as I have a daughter who has been a nurse for 13 years, I've heard a lot about nursing as a profession.  This book was fascinating in so many ways.  It also contains an extensive 'author note' at the end to explain more.

I think sometimes we forget how very differently nurses were viewed in the 19th century.  They were considered the dregs of society for the most part and no 'decent' woman would consider calling herself a Nurse.  Florence Nightingale changed all that.  No Cure For the Dead takes place before the Crimean War and before Miss Nightingale changed nursing forever.  In this book, she has recently become the Superintendent of a sort of hospital for women.  Right away, there are problems and a dead body.  As Florence tries to formulate how she will train her staff to measure up to her standards for nursing, she is also investigating that death.  Lots of things happen - accidents - or not.  Christine Trent has included a wealth of info regarding healthcare in the Victorian Age, some of it quite odd.  As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the characters and the setting.  And I'll be watching for the second book, while also checking out the author's other series - first book is Lady of the Ashes.  Recommended. 


It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London. She has hardly had time to learn the names of the nurses in her charge when she suddenly finds one of them hanging in the Establishment’s library. Her name was Nurse Bellamy.

Florence’s mettle is tested by the dual goals of preserving what little reputation her hospital has and bringing Nurse Bellamy’s killer to justice. Her efforts are met with upturned noses and wayward glances except for her close friend and advocate inside the House of Commons, Sidney Herbert. As Florence digs deeper, however, her attention turns to one of the hospital investors and suddenly, Sidney becomes reluctant to help.

With no one but herself to count on, Florence must now puzzle out what the death of an unknown, nondescript young nurse has to do with conspiracies lurking about at the highest levels of government before she’s silenced too.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The End of Temperance Dare - Wendy Webb

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

First Paragraph(s):

They gave her the bed by the window, the one closest to the toy box.  That was something, at least.  But the very fact that she was there at all, away from home, away from her father, her sisters, her dolls, terrified the girl.  Other children were there; she wasn't the only one.  But this did little to soothe her.
     Father didn't tell her he was leaving her here, that she'd be staying.  She thought they were on an outing together, just the two of them, something rare and wonderful.  But it wasn't an outing.  He had brought her here to leave her in this place, with all of these sick and dying people.  She'd clutched his hand as they walked through the foyer to the doctor's office, past patients with sunken eyes and ashen skin, their robes hanging loosely around them, living skeletons who had been nearly consumed by their illnesses.  She watched as one man coughed into a handkerchief, staining it bright red with blood.  She turned her face toward her father's trousers, not wanting to see any more.  Death lived within these walls; she could feel it hanging in the air, as tangible as the fog outside.

My Thoughts:

'Something wicked this way comes...' - that phrase pretty much describes this book.  I've read another book by Wendy Webb, The Fate of Mercy Alban, but it's been several years.  What I can recall about it was Gothic leaning toward horror.  The End of Temperance Dare is much the same.  Eleanor Harper is hired to replace the director of Cliffside Manor, an artist and writer's retreat, upon Miss Penny's retirement.  Soon after, Miss Penny is dead and Eleanor has to figure out what comes next for Cliffside, with very little preparation. 

Wendy Webb provides the reader with a beautiful lakeside setting, an elegant old house (though it did have a former life as a TB sanatorium - rather creepy), an unprepared 'new head of staff' (who by the way is a little clueless in my book for a seasoned investigative reporter), and the 'fellows' - people who were accepted into the artist/writer program for a month of solitude and peace.  Hmmm....not so much peace.  I did like the tale.  And I listened to it on audio, narrated by Xe Sands.  It had a few eye-rolling moments, but I decided to go with them and remember I was reading a Gothic/horror book.  It reminded me a bit of some of the stories told by Jennifer McMahon and it also brought to mind a Stephen King TV mini-series, Rose Red.  That might give you an inkling about Wendy Webb's way of telling a story.  I'll be thinking about reading her backlist and watching for what comes next for her.  I like a good ghostly scare. 


When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.

But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

First Paragraph(s):

The magpies are back.  It's strange to think how much I used to hate them, when I first came to the house.  I remember coming up the drive in the taxi from the station, seeing them lined up along the garden wall like that, preening their feathers. 
     Today there was one perched on the frost-rimed branch of yew right outside my window, and I remembered what my mother used to say when I was little and whispered 'Hello, Mr. Magpie' under my breath, to turn away the bad luck.
     I counted them as I dressed, shivering next to the window.  One on the yew tree.  A second on the weathervane of the folly.  A third on the wall of the kitchen garden.  Three for a girl.
     It seemed like an omen, and for a moment I shivered.  Wishing, wondering, waiting...
     But no, there were more on the frozen lawn.  Four, five...six...and one hopping across the flags of the terrace, pecking at the ice on the covers over the table and chairs.
     Seven.  Seven for a secret, never to be told.

My Thoughts:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is Ruth Ware's fourth book and I've read all of them.  And liked all of them - some more than others.  Each are standalones and each different from those before.  This book is again - different - quite Gothic with secrets and an old creepy house - with a family that doesn't get along or see each other often at all.  Years, in fact.  There is a majorly horrible old housekeeper - ancient and bitter.  Shades of Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers.  There is a death and a will and that's what brings Harriet Westaway, known as Hal, into the story.

I think that's about all I'll say about the plot.  Harriet works as a Tarot card reader on the boardwalk in Brighton.  She owes money.  She's hasn't much.  What will meeting this family bring her?  Well, you'll have to read The Death of Mrs. Westaway to find out.  I was mostly pleased with story.  Hal got a little annoying at times, but she was young and inexperienced and way out of her depth in many ways.  Some of the plot devices were predicable, but I've read a lot of thrillers and Gothics.  There was definitely an ominous feel and the setting in Cornwall and awful weather contributed as well.  I was cold all the time I was reading.  Will I be reading the next book by Ruth Ware?  Oh yes.  Just try and keep me away.  Ha!   


Dear Miss Westaway,

Your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trepassen House, St Piran, passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

In accordance with the wishes of your late grandmother, I am instructed to inform beneficiaries of the details of her funeral. As local accommodation is very limited, family members are invited to stay at Trepassen House where a wake will also be held.

Yours truly,

Robert Treswick
Treswick, Nantes and Dean, Penzance

When Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – receives a letter from the blue informing her of a substantial inheritance, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The loan shark she borrowed from is becoming increasingly aggressive, and there is no way that her job as a seaside fortune-teller can clear her debts.

There is just one problem: Hester Westaway is not Hal’s grandmother. The letter has been sent to the wrong person.

But Hal is a cold reader, practised in mining her clients for secrets about their lives. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a strange woman’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

With only one way out of her problems, Hal boards a train for Cornwall, and prepares for the con of her life. But something is very, very wrong at Trepassen House.  Hal is not the only person with a secret, and it seems that someone may be prepared to do almost anything to keep theirs hidden…

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Stalker on the Fens - Joy Ellis

Stalker on the Fens by Joy Ellis

First Paragraph(s):

'Another bloody dead end!!'
     Detective Inspector Nikki Galena slammed the car door and glared back at the peeling paintwork of the shabby, terraced house.  'Did you see their faces?  Their body language?'
     Detective Sergeant Joseph Easter slipped his notebook back into his pocket and turned the key in the ignition.  'I didn't have to.  The atmosphere was thick enough to choke on.  But you could hardly blame them.  That bastard isn't just threatening them, he's targeting their families as well.  Think how you'd feel if something happened to one of your loved ones and you thought you could have prevented it?  I totally understand why they don't want to talk to us.'

My Thoughts:

I know I've been moving through this series at a fairly fast clip lately.  Stalker on the Fens is the fifth book  and, as usual, is full of action and crime solving.  I enjoy listening to these an audio and Henrietta Meire does a great job with the narration.  Several ongoing threads are nicely tied up before the end of the book and more new characters are introduced.  We'll see if they stick around.  There is quite a lot of info regarding alternative medicine as Nikki's friend, Helen, is involved in that.  And mandalas - which I know very little about.  I like how the author turns her research eye to different topics and includes them in the general story.  As I said, I'm a big fan of Nikki and Joseph and look forward to reading the next - Captive on the Fens.


DI Nikki Galena’s close friend Helen Brook is involved in a serious accident where she is trapped in a collapsed cellar. After her hard-won recovery, Helen is still getting flashbacks to a man she says was down there with her and who confessed to a murder. But no trace of this man can be found.

Then Helen tells Nikki that someone is watching her. But is all this in her friend’s imagination and part of her post-traumatic stress?

And why is Stephen Cox back in town? He’s the villain who tore Nikki’s life apart and he seems to have returned to wreak more chaos. Before long the whole town is on the verge of hysteria and her friend’s fear will lead Nikki and Joseph on a very dangerous trail.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - An Unwanted Guest

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I've read this author's first book, The Couple Next Door, and liked it.  I have not read her second as yet, but I plan to and I'm waiting on her third.  I like the winter setting and the 'locked room' vibe.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  August 7th

t's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead--it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Winter Over - Matthew Iden

The Winter Over by Matthew Iden

First Paragraph(s):

The woman's arms were spread wide, open to the world, as though she were asking for a hug or just starting a snow angel.
     One boot--ridiculously oversized--was turned at an obscene angle.  The other, held rigidly in place by its thick plastic and neoprene, pointed toward a dishwater-gray sky.  Reflective goggles and a thick balaclava hid her face, but a delicate lattice of ice crystals framed her mouth and nostrils, a ghostly 'o' and two dashes where her once hot breath had frozen instantly in air that was forty degrees south of zero.  Ramps of snow leaned against the body's windward side, brought to rest against her by the constant Antarctic gales.  Had they not found her, she would've been buried in eight hours, maybe less, and she could've been someone else's discovery a hundred days or a hundred years from now.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book set in Antarctica that I've read recently and I liked it very much as well.  I'm rather fascinated with the idea of spending a long season in that remote and scary place.  I really can't imagine why you'd want to do that, but I do know that scientists and researchers make the decision to endure it year after year.  I also think that the 'oddness' of a place that is so extreme lends itself well to fiction - either sci-fi or mystery or a combo of both. 

I've heard the author, Matthew Iden, twice on panels at mystery conferences and he told us recently that he did indeed visit Antarctica as part of his research for the book.  He also shared a multitude of websites and blogs and other resources he tapped to tell his gripping story.  The Winter Over was a book that I did a listen/read combo.  It was narrated very well by Karen Peakes.  And it is indeed a mystery thriller, but it also slides a bit over into the sci-fi realm in my opinion - not a bad thing at all.  I liked the main protagonist, Cass, an engineer who was eager for a change in her life.  Her jobs at the facility were myriad and the description of how she went about them was interesting to me.  There was not too much about the science angle, but a lot about how people might cope with months of darkness and close quarters.  As I said, I was quite interested.  I guessed what the outcome would be, but that was fine with me.  I needed to know how things would play out.  I'll be trying other books by Matthew Iden, though this was a standalone novel.  His most recent book published is Birthday Girl.  Think I'll be picking it up soon.


Each winter the crew at the Shackleton South Pole Research Facility faces nine months of isolation, round-the-clock darkness, and one of the most extreme climates on the planet. For thirty-something mechanical engineer Cass Jennings, Antarctica offers an opportunity to finally escape the guilt of her troubled past and to rebuild her life.

But the death of a colleague triggers a series of mysterious incidents that push Cass and the rest of the forty-four-person crew to the limits of their sanity and endurance. Confined and cut off from the outside world, will they work together or turn against one another? As the tension escalates, Cass must find the strength to survive not only a punishing landscape but also an unrelenting menace determined to destroy the station—and everyone in it.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Shadow of Death - Jane Willan

The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan

First Paragraph(s):

Jacob Traherne, sexton at St. Anselm Church in the tiny North Wales village of Pryderi, slung his wet mop across the chancel floor and thought about rugby.  First tenor for the North Wales Rugby Choir, he hummed through his solo piece for that night's opening playoff between the Ospreys and the Dragons.  Gripping the mop in one hand, he raised his other hand like a priest blessing the congregation and belted ou the first lines to the old Welsh hymn Cwm Rhondda.

     Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
       pilgrim through this barren land.

My Thoughts:

I had a great time reading The Shadow of Death, the debut mystery by Jane Willan.  The first in the Sister Agatha series, it introduces us to the nuns at Gwenafwy Abbey and to Sister Agatha, the group's librarian who is also an aspiring mystery writer.  Filled with references to favored mystery authors and characters, a bit about the makings of the Abbey's cheese, Heavenly Gouda, some interesting up-to-date-ish nuns, a murder, and a Reverend Mother that shoots 'hoops' to relax, I definitely laughed a lot.  In between cheese festivals and drinking tea, Sister Agatha and her old friend, Father Selwyn, manage to collect clues and solve more than one problem.  I also liked the bits of philosophy scattered here and there regarding 'traditional' vs. 'contemporary' approaches to serving God and community.  I did discern the solution to the murder, but I was surprised by a few things.  And I look forward to the second book in the series, The Hour of Death, which will be published in early October. 

I shared a table with author Jane Willan and others at the Sisters in Crime Breakfast I attended at Malice Domestic 30.  She and everyone else were great breakfast companions, and I was glad to get to talk with her a bit about this book.  Jane is herself an ordained minister and serves a parish church in Massachusetts.       


The sisters of Gwenafwy Abbey have cherished their contemplative life—days spent in prayer, reflection, tending the Convent’s vegetable gardens and making their award-winning organic cheese, Heavenly Gouda. Life seems perfect, except for Sister Agatha, a die-hard mystery fan who despairs of ever finding any real life inspiration for her own novel. That is, until the Abbey’s sexton is found dead under an avalanche of gouda. Despite the reservations of the local constable, Sister Agatha is convinced it’s murder and the game is afoot.

Armed only with the notes she’s scribbled during her favorite podcast, How to Write a Mystery Novel, as well as a lessons learned from crime heroes ranging from Hercule Poirot to Stephanie Plum, Sister Agatha leads the nuns of Gwenafwy Abbey (and her unwitting sidekick, Father Selwyn) as they begin a race against time to resolve the death of Jacob, save the Abbey, exonerate a beloved postulate, and restore the good name of their cheese.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Dark Lake - Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

First Paragraph(s):

When I think back to that summer something comes loose in my head.  It's like a marble is bouncing around in there, like my brain is a pinball machine.  I try not to let it roll around for too long.  If I do, I end up going funny behind the eyes and in my throat and I can't do normal things like order coffee or tie Ben's shoelaces.  I know I should try to forget.  Move on.  It's what I would tell someone else in my situation to do.  Probably I should move away, leave Smithson, but starting over has never been a strength of mine.  I have trouble letting go.
     During the day it's not so bad.  I'll be in the middle of doing something and then my mind wanders to her and the little ball ricochets through my head and I stop talking in the middle of a sentence, or I forget to press the accelerator when the lights go green.  Still, I can usually shake it away and keep going with whatever I was doing without anyone noticing.
     It's amazing what you can keep buried when you want to.

My Thoughts:

The Dark Lake is the debut novel for writer Sarah Bailey.  I listened to it on audio narrated by Kate Hosking.  She did a good job with the story.  DS Gemma Woodstock is a young detective attached to the police in her Australian hometown of Smithson.  She has a young son, Ben, and figuring out how to be both a cop and a mother is tough.  Ben's father, Scott, is a good parent, but he and Gemma are not an ideal couple.  Rosalind Ryan, someone Gemma knew from her teenage years, is found dead in the lake.  It's the job of Gemma and her partner, Felix, to investigate the crime.  And it is way complicated with lots of family secrets and misunderstandings.

I liked this one, though it was a bit depressing.  Well, it's about murder, you might say, how could it not be depressing?  Gemma is having a tough time, though she does seem to be a decent cop.  I didn't like the fact that she is having an affair with her married partner.  Cheating is never a plus for a character in my reading.  However, I managed to endure it.  The story was intriguing with the Australian setting during the Christmas season.  The fact that it was hot and sticky and the characters kept sweating was a little disconcerting - all this while Christmas carols played.  Ha!  I did think that Gemma improved as a character and person through the story and I'm glad to see that the author will feature her in the next book (out in the US in December), Into the Night.  I'll watch for that one and consider that any bumps and rough places in this book were due to a first-time author.     


The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind's student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.

As much as Rosalind's life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town's richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?

Rosalind's enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets--an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Killer on the Fens - Joy Ellis

Killer on the Fens by Joy Ellis

First Paragraph(s):

Detective Inspector Nikki Galena's face was a mask of concentration as she accelerated her powerful car along the dangerous fenland lanes.  Long shadows were forming as the evening drew in, and she was grateful that she'd actually paid attention during her advanced driving course.
     This was the second time in a week that she had received a call from the nursing home about her father's failing health.  'Wicked bloody disease!' Nikki cursed as she eased the car around a deceptively sharp bend.  The Alzheimer's had stolen most of his once astute brain years ago, but now he was in what the home called 'end stage,' and although she had been told this could go on for a long time, her gut feeling said otherwise.

My Thoughts:

I think I've said more than once that I'm really enjoying reading and listening to Joy Ellis' series featuring DI Nikki Galena.  Killer on the Fens is the 4th of these and, once again, it's narrated by Henrietta Meire.  This book finds Nikki speeding off to her father's care home because his condition has deteriorated.  He has Alzheimer's and Nikki has been losing him bit by bit.  He tells her to 'find Eve'.  Nikki has no idea who he is talking about, but promises to try to fulfill his wish.  A task with lots of complications.  Nikki thinks she knows everything about her father's life, but, of course, she does not.

Adding to the story of 'finding Eve', Killer on the Fens includes a historical airfield and what might be hidden there.  Also, DS Joseph Easter's daughter, Tamsin, has agreed to visit him and Joseph is eager to mend the 'less-than-wonderful' relationship he and Tamsin have shared since she was a little girl.  And then there are the bodies - lots and lots of bodies.  That's all I'll say about the plot.  I liked this one very much and am getting so involved in the lives of all the characters.  I love a complex plot, but I also like to feel connected to the characters in a long-running crime series.  Joy Ellis has managed that very aptly.  The next book is Stalker on the Fens and I imagine you'll be seeing that one on my reading list sooner rather than later.  This series is recommended.


DI Nikki Galena faces a personal challenge which will stretch her to the limit. She must fulfill her father’s dying wish and discover who the mysterious Eve is. Meanwhile a dead drug dealer is found on an abandoned airfield that the locals say is haunted. The trail of both mysteries will lead to the most shocking discovery of Nikki’s career and put her whole team in mortal danger.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Other Wife

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I've read several books in the series featuring clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin.  He has major health problems, but he also solves crimes.  I'm really excited about the 9th book in this series - a story that is very personal to Joe.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  June 26th

Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O'Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William's bedside, covered in his blood - a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew - and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Glass Room - Ann Cleeves

The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

First Paragraph(s):

Vera Stanhope climbed out of Hector's ancient Land Rover and felt the inevitable strain on her knees.  Hector's Land Rover.  Her father had been dead for years, but still she thought of the vehicle as his.  She stopped for a moment to look down the valley at the view.  Another thing her father had gifted her: this house.  Sod all else, she thought, maybe she should forgive him because of this.  It was October and the light was going.  A smell of wood-smoke and ice.  Most of the trees were already bare and the whooper swans had come back to the lough.
     She'd stopped at the supermarket outside Kimmerston on her way home from work and there were carrier bags piled on the passenger seat.  She took a guilty look round to make sure the coast was clear.  Her eco-warrior neighbours despised the use of plastic bags, and after a day at the office she couldn't face a right-on lecture about saving the planet.  But there was no one in the yard next door.  A couple of hens poked around a weed patch.  No sound, and if Jack was working in the barn there'd be loud rock music.  Or howling blues.  She lifted the bags out of the Land Rover, then set them down on her doorstep to search for her keys.
     But the door was already open.

My Thoughts:

I finally was able to complete my reading of all the Vera Stanhope books that have been published so far.  The Glass Room recently came out on audio and I very quickly picked it up and began to listen.  It was narrated wonderfully by Charlie Hardwick.  This is #5 in the series and I skipped this one earlier.  I don't usually like reading a series out of order, but Ann Cleeves does a good job of making each book stand on its own.  Vera has a 'hippie' couple who are her neighbors and sort of friends.  The woman goes missing and Vera finds her at a country house - The Writer's House - where she has gone to take an intensive course on composing crime fiction.  Unhappily, someone has been killed.  Fortunately, Vera is on the spot to take the investigation.  Also, Vera's neighbor has been seen running away with a knife in her hand.  Is there a conflict of interest because Vera knows the main suspect?  Not according to her, but Joe Ashworth, her DS, isn't so sure.  A sort of 'locked room' mystery set in the country with characters that could be right out of a game of Clue - plus DI Vera Stanhope - what more could a reader want?

I really liked this crime novel and think that Ann Cleeves has great talent for taking the reader through the investigation.  Vera's inner thought processes are revealing and certainly humorous.  She's like a referee trying to keep her team focused and on task, while putting up with some of the bickering between DS Joe Ashworth and DC Holly Clark.  Vera herself is not so much a 'people' person, but she has much more compassion than she's comfortable showing most people.  And she gets flashes of brilliance about crime solving.  I've loved this whole series and now must wait until the next.  Guess it's time for me to start reading or listening to this author's Shetland books.  Bet I like those too.   


DI Vera Stanhope is not one to make friends easily, but her hippy neighbors keep her well-supplied in homebrew and conversation, and somehow bonds have formed. When one of them goes missing, Vera tracks the young woman down to the Writer’s House, a country retreat where aspiring authors work on their stories. Things get complicated when a body is discovered, and Vera’s neighbor is found with a knife in her hand.

Calling in the team, Vera knows that she should hand the case over. She’s too close to the main suspect. But the investigation is too tempting, and she’s never been one to follow the rules. Somewhere there is a killer who has taken murder off the page and is making it real . . .

Monday, June 4, 2018

Cold, Cold Heart - Christine Poulson

Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson

First Paragraph(s):

As Flora drove up the rutted track to the cottage, she thought for a moment that someone had switched on a light upstairs, but it was only the setting sun striking fire from a bedroom window.  She parked the svelte Porsche Panamera that had been Michael's wedding present.  It was still a new toy and she'd enjoyed the drive from Cambridge.  She got out of the car and shivered, pulled her coat around her.  The sun had gone down behind the little grove of pines that served as a windbreak.  It was the first time she'd been here alone and it occurred to her that another woman might have felt uneasy.  The nearest neighbour was a farmer a mile or two away across the fields.  But she wasn't the nervous type, and she was looking forward to having time to herself.
     She took the cat carrier from the car.  Marmaduke, her long-haired mackerel tabby, liked it here and could be trusted not to run away.  'Off you go, little tiger,' she said, as she let him out.  He snuffed the air, and set off with a purposeful air to patrol the garden.

My Thoughts:

Oh, I did enjoy this book - truly.  I read about it on someone's blog and I can't remember who recommended it - was it you?  Anyway, the setting is Antarctica for most of the book.  I love books set in Antarctica, though I know I will never, ever visit and really don't want to.  Too cold.  Cold, Cold Heart is actually the second book in Christine Poulson's series featuring Katie Flanagan.  Deep Water is the first book.  I'm sure I'll read it soon.  This book is actually a sort of 'locked room' tale, which I also love.  There are parts set in England where a woman goes missing, but most of the story tells of a murder in a remote scientific outpost of Antarctica - in the time period where the sun never rises - 24 hours of dark.  Katie and her colleagues are settled in, someone can't be found and then the body is discovered.  The murderer has to be one of the other people, but who?  The story also relates to a big discovery that might possibly be a cure for certain cancers.  There is a lot of info about what it might be like to be isolated for months on end and how there is still communication through email and other methods. 

I was able to meet this author at the Malice convention and I really enjoyed what she had to say about her research.  I'm hoping there will be another book in the series.  I liked Katie and want to follow her journey as a scientist.  This one is recommended!


Midwinter in Antarctica. Six months of darkness are about to begin. Scientist Katie Flanagan has an undeserved reputation as a trouble-maker and her career has foundered. When an accident creates an opening on a remote Antarctic research base she seizes it, flying in on the last plane before the subzero temperatures make it impossible to leave. Meanwhile patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont has been asked to undertake due diligence on a breakthrough cancer cure. But the key scientist is strangely elusive and Daniel uncovers a dark secret that leads to Antarctica. Out on the ice a storm is gathering. As the crew lock down the station they discover a body and realise that they are trapped with a killer…

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation - From The Tipping Point to Jade Dragon Mountain

I'm here with Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. She chooses a book as a starting point and then links to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

The starting book in this month's chain is one that I've certainly heard about, but I've not read (and probably won't) - The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

The Tipping Point is about 'how little things can make a big difference' - certain behaviors or circumstances hit a threshold or 'tipping point' and then catch on like wildfire and spread.  The author, Malcolm Gladwell, has been a writer for The New Yorker magazine for over 20 years.

Connecting to The New Yorker, Roz Chast, the author of the graphic novel Can't we talk about something more PLEASANT?, tells of her life while her parents were aging.  It's about decisions and life and also death.  I have read this book and think it's very good, very realistic, and certainly sad.  Roz Chast has had her cartoons published in The New Yorker for years and years.

Also by an author named, Roz, the next connection is to Our Little Secret by Roz Nay.  Recently published and also nominated for a 'Best First Crime Novel' award, this book is a psychological thriller.  I haven't read it yet, but I plan to try it soon.

Another book with the word 'Secret' in the title, we have The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty.  I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it.  I also reread it on audio with narrator Caroline Lee, who is wonderful.

Our next connection is another book that is narrated by the fabulous Caroline Lee on audio.  It's The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  I read this one with our mystery group and it was really well done.  Set in both Cornwall and Australia, this is the author's 'hat tip' to The Secret Garden.

Erin Kelly's book He Said, She Said is also set in Cornwall.  I've also read this book and was fascinated with the way this author told her story.  It occurs during a festival to observe a total eclipse of the sun and something really bad happens.  I read it last summer when another total eclipse took place.

Our last link for this month is another solar eclipse, which occurs in Elsa Hart's Jade Dragon Mountain.  This mystery is set in 18th century China and Tibet and I have not read it as yet.  It's on my list to try.   

I always enjoy creating these chains and, as usual, mine are populated with a bunch of crime novels.  What can I say?  I love mysteries.  We started with a non-fiction bestseller and ended with a mystery set in 18th century China.  The connections were 'The New Yorker magazine', 'authors named Roz', 'Secret in the book title', 'audio narration by Caroline Lee', 'setting of Cornwall', and 'solar eclipses'.  Plus, I've read over half the books.  Not a bad track record.  Next month, July 7th, I'll be on a blogging break, but I hope to be back with another chain in August.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Guppy Book of the Month - 1st Post - Pre-Meditated Murder - Tracy Weber

Guppy Book of the Month

Welcome to my first 'Guppy Book of the Month' post!  I'm very excited about highlighting the books that I'll be receiving as part of my very special Live Auction win at Malice Domestic 30.  Each time I receive a book, I'll tell a bit about it and also a bit about the author.  No promises as to when I'll get it read and my thoughts shared, but if it looks great to you, check it out at your local library or bookstore.  Some of these books will be debuts and some will be from authors already established.  So, here we go:

5th in the Downward Dog Mystery Series

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she's disappointed when a special dinner doesn't end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his green card-seeking wife is blackmailing him.

When his wife's body is found—by Kate and her dog, no less—Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . . with Michael trapped in the middle.

Tracy lives in Seattle, Washington and is a certified yoga instructor, among other skills.  She and her husband have a German Shepherd named Ana.  This book is the 5th in her mystery series, which begins with Murder Strikes a Pose.


I'm excited about receiving a mystery that includes yoga.  I've enjoyed yoga in the past and am curious about how Tracy works it into her series.  So, thank you, Tracy!  Good luck with your books!  I look forward to reading them!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hunted on the Fens - Joy Ellis

Hunted on the Fens by Joy Ellis

First Paragraph(s):

DS Joseph Easter's eyes snapped open.  Instantly he was wide awake and experiencing a rush of automatic reactions left over from his years as a special ops soldier.
     His ears strained for sounds that shouldn't be there.  He sniffed the air for unexpected smells and his eyes systematically checked the moonlit bedroom.  When he was certain that he was still alone, he noted the time on his backlit radio alarm and forced himself to relax.  It would appear that old habits died hard.

My Thoughts:

I've really been enjoying this DI Nikki Galena series.  Hunted on the Fens is the 3rd book and it was quite suspenseful.  Nikki has recently suffered a loss and as she returns to work, she has her hands full.  Her team is trying to solve a difficult case, but soon they find themselves targeted individually.  One ends up in the hospital, one has a fire, one has bank accounts emptied, and it seems the perpetrator is not even close to being through with them.  A quick read that kept me engrossed - definitely looking forward to what's next for Nikki Galena, Joseph Easter, and the characters that are becoming familiar and dear. 


DI Nikki Galena faces her toughest challenge yet. Can she save her team and herself from a cruel and determined adversary who will stop at nothing to harm Nikki and her colleagues? First she must work out who wants revenge against her or one of her detectives.  And what is the connection between the series of attacks on the police and the mystery of a woman found dead in a seemingly impregnable locked room?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Disappearing

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I'm sharing this week is by an author that I've had on my TBR for a long time.  And I've still not read any of her books.  Why is that?  She's won two Edgar awards!  Hoping this one is the one that will change that.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  July 17th

When Lane Fielding fled her isolated Florida hometown after high school for the anonymity of New York City, she swore she'd never return. But twenty years later, newly divorced and with two daughters in tow, she finds herself tending bar at the local dive and living with her parents on the historic Fielding Plantation. Here, the past haunts her and the sinister crimes of her father--the former director of an infamous boys' school--make her as unwelcome in town as she was the day she left.

Ostracized by the people she was taught to trust, Lane's unsteady truce with the town is rattled when her older daughter suddenly vanishes. Ten days earlier, a college student went missing, and the two disappearances at first ignite fears that a serial killer who once preyed upon the town has returned. But when Lane's younger daughter admits to having made a new and unseemly friend, a desperate Lane attacks her hometown's façade to discover whether her daughter's disappearance is payback for her father's crimes--or for her own.

With reporters descending upon the town, police combing through the swamp, and events taking increasingly disturbing turns, Lane fears she faces too many enemies and too little time to bring her daughter safely home. Powerful and heart-pounding, The Disappearing questions the endurance of family bonds, the dangers of dark rumors and small town gossip, and how sometimes home is the scariest place of all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I'll Keep You Safe - Peter May

I'll Keep You Safe by Peter May

First Paragraph(s):

All she can hear is the ringing in her ears.  A high-pitched tinnitus drowning out all other sounds.  The chaos around her has no real form.  Flaming fragments from the blast still falling from the night sky, bodies lying on the concrete.  The shadows of figures fleeing the flames extend towards her across the square, flickering like monochrome images on a screen.
     She can make out the skeleton of the car beyond the blaze, imagining that she sees the silhouettes of the driver and passenger still strapped in their seats.  But how could anyone have survived such an explosion intact?

My Thoughts:

I'll Keep You Safe is Peter May's newest book, published just this spring and it's a standalone.  Set in both Paris and the Isle of Lewis, it tells the story of a couple, Niamh (wife) and Ruairidh (husband), who are struggling a bit and then one is killed.  I listened to this one on audio and Peter Forbes provided most of the narration, with Anna Murray relating the development of the relationship over the years from Niamh's perspective.  Both narrators did an excellent job.  There was a lot of information about the fashion industry and the making of tweed cloth.  That was mostly interesting, but my favorite parts were when the setting was Lewis and the wonderful descriptions of the landscape, the weather, the villages, and the people.  Detective Sergeant George Gunn makes an appearance again as he assists the French Detective in her investigation.

OK, let me say that even though Peter May is a favorite author of mine, this book was not my favorite.  There were parts that I loved - the setting, the descriptions of Niamh and Ruairidh's history together since childhood.  However, other parts were not as pleasing to me.  And there was a twist at the end that I saw coming very clearly.  That being said, I definitely do not want to discourage anyone from trying this book.  It's good, just not his best, in my opinion.  I'll be watching for what comes next and hoping beyond hope that the location will once again be The Outer Hebrides. 


Friends since childhood, and lovers and business partners as adults, Niamh and Ruairidh are owners of a small Hebridean company, Ranish Tweed, that weaves its own very special version of Harris Tweed. Although it's a small company, their fabrics have become internationally sought-after as a niche brand in the world of fashion and haute couture.

But the threads of their relationship are beginning to fray. As they prepare for an important showing at the Première Vision fabric fair, held in Paris every year, Niamh accuses Ruairidh of having an affair with Irina, a Russian fashion designer they work with--a fight that ends with Ruairidh storming off and getting into Irina's car. Moments later, Niamh watches in horror as the car containing her life partner explodes in a ball of flame.

With Niamh a prime suspect in the murder, the Parisian police hound her even after she returns to Harris to bury the pitiful remains of her lover and business partner. Amid the grief and struggles that follow, she begins to suspect that things are not what they seem; and when there is an attempt on her life, she becomes convinced that what looked like a terrorist attack on her lover might be something more personal by far . . .

Monday, May 28, 2018

Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

First Paragraph(s):

Death does not suit me.  I wear it like a borrowed coat; it slips off my shoulders and trails in the dirt.  It is ill fitting.  Uncomfortable.
     I want to shrug it off; to throw it in the cupboard and take back my well-tailored clothes.  I didn't want to to leave my old life, but I'm hopeful for my next one--hopeful I can become someone beautiful and vibrant.  For now, I am trapped. 
     Between lives.
     In limbo.

My Thoughts:

Let Me Lie is the third book by Clare Mackintosh and, as with her previous books, I Let You Go and I See You, I was caught up in the story.  Anna Johnson has lost both her parents to suicide or so it seems.  First her father and then, some months later, her mother, in exactly the same way.  She now has a child and would like to move on with her life, but she still has niggling doubts about their deaths.  On the first anniversary of her mother's death, Anna receives a card that suggests a closer look is warranted.  She goes to the police and relates her story to ex-detective (now civilian employee) Murray Mackenzie.  Even though he's unofficial, Murray decides to ask some questions.  And what he finds, well, I'll let you read the book and discover for yourself. 

I did like Let Me Lie and actually listened to it on audio, very well narrated by Gemma Whelan.  As I walked my usual daily route of exercise, I was muttering though.  The characters were not completely unlikable, but I was annoyed with many of them.  I'm finding that I talk to characters that bug me (now, that doesn't look or sound odd does it?  Ha!) and say things like - 'Seriously?' or 'That's where your mind went?' or 'How clueless are you?'.  My favorite person was Murray, the ex-policeman, and how he cared for and supported his wife, Sarah.  Oh, I also liked Anna's baby, Ella.  She was a normal baby and really just interested in where her next meal would come from.  And there was a nice little dog named Rita.  There were certainly twists and I had a good time puzzling what they might be.  I was mostly correct, but not entirely.  I'd love to see Murray again in another book.  And, yes, I'll be reading the next one by Clare Mackintosh.  She's pretty much moved to my 'must read' list. 


Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents' deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother's absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it's safer to let things lie....

Friday, May 25, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - May 2018

Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for May 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:

May 1998 - The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett - I honestly don't remember a whole lot about this book, but do remember liking it.  It was written long before the author was involved in her Nashville bookstore and a few years before she wrote Bel Canto, which is the only other novel of Patchett's that I've read.  I do recall that this book was about the widow of a magician who had been his assistant for many years.  And she finds that there was a lot about him that she didn't know. 

May 2003 - Practically Seventeen by Rosamond du Jardin - This was the first book in the Tobey and Midge Heydon series that I read as a young teen.  I loved this series, which had 6 books and was originally written in the early 1950's, I believe.  I found that a small press, Image Cascade, had reprinted all this author's works along with several other authors from the same era.  Stories about teens and malt shops and dances and boyfriends - loved them.  They were available again in print and also as e-books.  And I enjoyed rereading the whole series.

May 2008 - On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill - This book is the 18th in the award-winning series featuring Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe.  It was one of the first books we read in our Mystery Book Group, which began in 2008.  We paired it with In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson.  Both books featured crimes that came to light when lakes or reservoirs were drained.  It still remains the only book I've read by Hill, but perhaps one day I'll change that.  It was an excellent mystery.

May 2013 - How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny - This is the 9th book in probably my favorite mystery series ever, ever, ever.  And it is a pivotal book.  Whatever you do, if you've not read Louise Penny's books - don't start with this one.  Begin at the beginning.  The title comes from a poem/song written by Leonard Cohen, 'Anthem'.  The verse goes:

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.

The book is awesome.  The series is awesome.  The story and writing are awesome.  I love this author and I love her characters, flaws and all. 


And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Have you read any of these books or authors?  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what June books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird - A.J. Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

First Paragraph(s):

When I first saw the advertisement in the newspaper I thought I might actually burst.  I'd had rather a cheerful day so far despite the Luftwaffe annoying everyone by making us all late for work, and then I'd managed to get hold of an onion, which was very good news for a stew.  But when I saw the announcement, I could not have been more cock-a-hoop.
     It was a quarter past three on one of those wretched December afternoons when the day seemed to start getting dark before it had quite made up its mind to be light, and even with two vests and a greatcoat on, it was impossible to get warm.  Sitting on the top deck of the number 24 bus, I could see my breath if I huffed.
     I was on my way home from my job as a secretary at Strawman's Solicitors and looking forward to a sit down before my overnight shift on the fire-station telephones.  I had already read every word of The Evening Chronicle's news pages and was now looking at the horoscopes, which I didn't believe in but thought worth a go just in case.  For my best friend Bunty it said, 'You will be in the money soon enough.  Lucky animal: polecat,' which was promising, and for me, 'Things may pick up eventually.  Lucky fish: cod,' which in comparison was rather a dud.

My Thoughts:

What lovely debut novel this was!  First of all, Dear Mrs. Bird will not be available here in the US until early July, but put this one on your list for sure.  It's already out in the UK, so I decided it was fair game to share my thoughts.  This was the perfect story to slip between thrillers and more 'serious' type reads.  Emmy and Bunty are good friends, best friends in fact.  They live in London during the Blitz and life is crazy and exciting and scary.  One never knows when a night will be spent in a shelter or when more bombs will drop.  Each of them does their part to help out with the war effort.  Emmy's dream of becoming an ace reporter is a bit far-fetched, but taking a job with a women's magazine is a toe in the door of journalism.  The characters she meets are funny or charming or annoying beyond all measure.  Mrs. Bird, the advice columnist, is really something else - like from the Dark Ages.  There shall be no 'Unpleasantness' in the letters that she answers in her 'help' column.  Emmy tries to follow the strict rules, but her heart is touched and she becomes daring and bold and a bit reckless.  And that's all I'll say.  If you like a book that will make you laugh, touch your heart, and take you back to an earlier but not easier era, give this one a shot.  I liked it very much.  Highly recommended for just the right time.     


London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Death of Mrs. Westaway

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I'm definitely excited about the book I'm featuring this week and the publication date is almost here.  I've read all of this author's other books - In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game.  Though I didn't like The Lying Game as much as the previous books, I'm ready to try the new one - more than ready.  I like the info that the author shared about it on her website and have included it below as a blurb.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  May 29th

Dear Miss Westaway,

Your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trepassen House, St Piran, passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

In accordance with the wishes of your late grandmother, I am instructed to inform beneficiaries of the details of her funeral. As local accommodation is very limited, family members are invited to stay at Trepassen House where a wake will also be held.

Yours truly,

Robert Treswick
Treswick, Nantes and Dean, Penzance

When Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – receives a letter from the blue informing her of a substantial inheritance, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The loan shark she borrowed from is becoming increasingly aggressive, and there is no way that her job as a seaside fortune-teller can clear her debts.

There is just one problem: Hester Westaway is not Hal’s grandmother. The letter has been sent to the wrong person.

But Hal is a cold reader, practised in mining her clients for secrets about their lives. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a strange woman’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

With only one way out of her problems, Hal boards a train for Cornwall, and prepares for the con of her life. But something is very, very wrong at Trepassen House.  Hal is not the only person with a secret, and it seems that someone may be prepared to do almost anything to keep theirs hidden…