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2017 – WHOLE year without buying books

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Audiobook

Monastery, murder and madness with Matthew

 

BOOK FEELINGS: Hello Dear Reader, I know it has been a while but rest assured I am still reading. I have been reading new and wonderful things, since we last conversed I have had fun with witches, investigated a murderer’s son and with this book totally got lost in Tudor England. Close friends of mine recommended this series as ‘Sherlock Holmes type investigating set under the command of Henry VIII’ and although I like historical stories (see ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ by Jodi Taylor) I wasn’t sure. Therefor it is time to admit I WAS WRONG!!

I downloaded the first 3 books as they were on offer on Audible (other audio books providers are available) and got started the next day. I had a 3 hr journey back to Oxford which was the perfect was to get started on this series.

REVIEW:

51p04gFS4IL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer working under the rule of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s new England. Ties to Catholic Rome and the guidance of the Pope have been severed and Cromwell wants the monasteries to surrender their land.

Shardlake has been sent to the monastery at Scarnsea on the south coast to investigate the death of a fellow commissioner. What he finds is the deepest deception, mad men and truth behind his own feelings.

There are many subplots in this to keep the story flowing, including a buddy romance, racism and the hidden fantasies of the monks, both sexual and financial. The Snow, Alice and Brother Guy ‘the Dark faced monk’ keep Shardlake in Scarnsea much longer than anticipated and as the bodies rack up, is he actually safe within the walls of the Monastery?

This book is captivating even if you know nothing about Tudor England. the drama, the adventure and the surprises keep you guessing right until the end.

I have started Book 2 so I’m off to listen. Happy Reading

Mystery, unctions and time travel…what more could you want?

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BOOK FEELINGS: To be honest with you Dear reader, I bought this a very long time ago (Dec 2105 according to audible) and for some reason never got round to listening to it. Maybe I forgot, maybe I tried and didn’t like it, or maybe I just didn’t feel like it, but for whatever reason it just sat there, unlistened to for nearly 3 years and last week I saw it sitting there, not lonely but alone and I pressed play. I was sucked in immediately, I wanted more and need to know why Bess was running from Guidian!

After a run of murder mysteries, this is a definite change of pace. The story jumps through time, Bess and her family living and not so much surviving the plague, Elizabeth selling tinctures and unctions (which is just such a great word) at her local market in the modern age and Eliza being a Dr in the age of medical discovery. We hear of her adventures of immortality and why she has survived so long, the toll it had taken in her and why this time she’s getting close to another.

In the modern narrative, Elizabeth begrudgingly befriends a local teenage girl, Teagan, who appears to have no friends in the village and finds her company tolerable. Over the year they become closer and Elizabeth shares her history, although Teagan doesn’t realize the Bess of the witch trials is the same as the Elizabeth sitting in front of her. How close will she get to knowing the truth? Will she commit to her studies and become a young witch or will she be distracted by a boy? Will this apprenticeship risk Elizabeth’s sanctuary? Will Guidian finally catch up with her?

I like Bess, I like her brashness and her honesty. I find that I hold some people at a distance in the same way and it is nice to see a relatable character with the same traits. I wanted to know all her lives, I wanted to her escapes and how she honed her craft. I like that you know her struggle with the dark arts but it’s not the main story-line. I like that there is more to the series…51U6d59WKfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

The truth is, Dear reader this book is captivating, researched and great for bus journeys when you know you won’t be disturbed. If I could have sat still and stayed awake for the whole story in one go I would have done.

The conclusion is satisfactory and resolved but you know there is more to explore if you wanted. The narrative is so vivid and alive and despite being set in a particular part of the country (not mine) I still looked for a woman seeing Basil oil at the market this morning, just in case.

Happy Reading.

 

 

Two girls went partying, only one came home.

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BOOK FEELINGS: Through this whole experience, I have tried to get into different books and went through solid 6 months of binge listening to Steampunk (see Gail Carriger and CJ Archer), I read some Autobiographies (On your marks, Get set, Sue…) and even reread Harry Potter for the billionth time. The truth is I love a mystery, there I said it, I am a murder junkie. Different authors bring different twists to the genre, Elly Griffiths adds the archeological element, Chris Brookmyre is witty but clever and Ali Carter is my new detective love. I did not expect this to be so good, so gripping or brutal, I didn’t expect to want to turn it off as much as I wanted to turn it up. I needed to listen to this…and yes it is a psychological thriller!!genre-map-genres1

REVIEW: ‘Their Lost Daughters’ by Joy Ellis was brilliant. I’m worried my review won’t do it justice, so many twists, turns, and wonderful characters.

This starts with a missing girl found dead, a drugged shoeless girl found on the fens and the relentless pressure of a cold case by Kenya Black’s mother. DI Rowan Jackman and his DS, Marie Evans are suddenly in the spotlight and tracking a series of illegal parties rife with underage drinking.

Jackman and Evans are trying to work out if the girls are linked, why a local legend is haunting them and who is responsible for the ‘children’s ward’!

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Rowan Jackman is honest, relentless and everything you want your detective to be; he looks after his team, works too hard and never gives up. Marie is astute, Amazonian and goes everywhere on a motorbike, she cares too much and wants to catch the killer just as much as Rowan. In this installment, local boy Gary joins their team and Rosie goes undercover with her great attention to detail crazy memory and baby face!

This team takes on a prolific case and takes the reader with them. The whole cast is strong, everyone adds something and I found this a great start to the series (although technically book 2). There were light elements to keep the tension real and I can’t wait to hear more!

I’m enjoying my birthday week off and its board games time so…

Happy (or not so happy in this case) Reading!

A different type of pet detective!

 

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BOOK FEELINGS: This was a new release on Audible (other audiobook providers are available) and as I like mysteries, I thought it was a little bit different and I’d give it a go!

So when we meet Susie, she’s getting to know ‘Sittup’ and his family, when an old family friend is mysteriously heard dying in a graveyard. Susie stays with his wife, Diana and finds herself in the depths of a murder investigation. It is during this adventure she meets the cute, dependable medical examiner Toby and the charmingly dashing professor Henry. We learn a bit about Susie’s family, a lot about Diana’s staff and not enough about poor Alexander.

I really enjoyed the colour descriptions, the way Ali Carter describes things is just beautiful and although it is a gritty thriller it is a cozy mystery. It is soft and enjoyable and a very easy read.

 

Iron Age Norfolk with a modern mystery

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I had 2 credits sitting in my audio account, a rare and brilliant occurrence. I wanted something new, a series and something I had a connection with. I love the Jack Paralabane series because they make me laugh, I love Katy Reiches because I see Bones from the TV and I like finding a narrator who has good character awareness.

Brief pause while I rescue the pink mouse from under sofa because my cat is walking across my laptop until she gets the pink mouse back.

I downloaded ‘The Crossing Places’ after checking out the sample, and instantly I was transported back to my childhood. I grew up very near the Norfolk Broads, so many of the places mentioned I know and understand. The introduction of Dr. Ruth Galloway was brilliant. She was instantly relatable and I couldn’t wait to find out more.

Dr. Ruth gets a visit from a northern DCI, working out of Kings Lynn. They have found some bones, DCI Harry Nelson is desperate for Ruth to date them, could they be the answer he has been waiting 10 years for? Within 10 minutes I was hooked and as we met Eric ‘the Viking’ who had been Ruth’s mentor at University, David the head of the Bird sanctuary that Ruth lives near and SParky and Flint her adorable felines, I knew this was a story and series I wanted to devour.

We learn about Ruth’s parents, her ex-husband and Harry Nelson’s perfect family, all through anecdotes that are weaved into the plot. Is the latest missing girl linked with the case that has plagued Harry for years?

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The plot is a mix of a modern murder mystery, an archaeological dig, and an English lesson on referencing. We learn about Norse folk law, hear a fair few bible references and who knew Norfolk had druids? The history of the henge, the accuracy of the digs and the very intricate plot is gripping. I want to know more. I want to hear more.

The resolution of the main plot was unexpected, the affairs were not altogether predictable and 2 senseless murders later I was invested in Ruth’s world. I have already downloaded the second book, knowing there are 10 in the series I feel like Ruth’s world is only going to get more exciting.

So on that note, time to get on the bus home and listen to some more. Happy Reading!

A gender bending circus detective… what more could you want?

AR_TheBulletCatchersDaughter Good afternoon Dear Reader,

Its the funny bit between Christmas and New Year so what is the best thing to do…Read obviously. This year I got 2 books for Christmas, and its enough to keep me going until I can buy them again and I might have got my Amazon basket ready for New Year’s day.

I haven’t been sleeping very well as an old shoulder injury is making it difficult so instead I put my headphones on and listened to the end of my book.  Don’t get me wrong the gender-bending in this is simply a plot device and has nothing to do with a trans* character but I think some of the research for the characterisation has been amazing.

So what on earth am I talking about? Well, Elizabeth Barnabus lives on a houseboat ‘with her brother’, or does she? In fact, she lives alone and cross-dresses to become her brother a renowned private detective. She was raised in the circus as a bullet-catcher, an escape artist and pure illusionist. They are hired by a local aristocrat to find her missing brother, the twist is he is on the other side of the border.

This story set in the alternative history of the Luddite Rebellion means the Patent Office has a strict border and Elizabeth has the get through to infiltrate a travelling circus like the one she grew up in, to try and find the missing man. This wonderful steampunk AU is full of mystery, intrigue and best of all the start of a series. I have already got the next two lined up for when I got back to my silly commute. Evanna-Lynch

The best bits for me include the extracts from the ‘The bullet catchers handbook’ at the beginning of each chapter, the fact the Rod Duncan is very funny and that this book is a very good detective novel. This is a great book, easy to read and full of cunning wordplay. Happy New Year all, so let’s keep reading in 2018!

Hard Magic!

So I found this audiobook in the recommendations after listening to the Glass and Steele series and the Parasol protectorate and sure enough the algorithm was right. I loved this book.

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Jake Sullivan is a ‘Heavy’ unless you ask him, then he is a gravity spiker. Faye is a traveller and Heinrich is a fade. Dan is a mouth and Lance, well he is cog. You need to find out how these 5 take on the Imperium.

It is a book full of quotes and alternative history.

  • the Titanic did not sink, it was saved by an Active.
  • When he was elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not in a wheelchair, having been cured of polio by a Mender as a child.
  • Dirigibles/Blimps are common air carriers.
  • National Socialism (Nazism) never rose in Germany, as Hitler was shot by a firing squad long before he developed any kind of following before the events in the books take place.
  • In the Great War, the Kaiser’s forces employed magic that turned all of the battlefield dead into zombies. At the end of the war, the remaining zombies were herded into Berlin and surrounded by a big wall to keep them in. They are still there to this day, and it is now referred to as “Dead City”.
  • The Great War was ended by the invention of the Peace Ray, a weapon invented by Nikolai Tesla (a Cog) capable of hitting any target with a 300-mile line-of-sight range and utterly destroy it. Now, all countries have Peace Ray installations, and out-and-out war is a thing of the past.

J Edgar Hoover is in charger of the BI and trades Jake’s jail time for his service in hunting down dangerous actives. During his pursuits he is reunited with Delilah and meet the rest of the Grimnoir. Upon meeting him, Faye tries to kill Jake thinking he is his brother Maddy, one Jane heals them both and together they go after the Chairman.

The flow is a little stunted sometimes, there will be chapters where no very much happens and others where you are overwhelmed with the progress but it seems to work. This book is funny, strange and very well written. I liked the narrator and how the thoughts of the characters were said in their voice, the writing echoed this.

Happy reading!!

 

Battle of the ‘Beauty Queens’…

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Firstly an apology… I called her Ida May, she is actually Ida Belle. I was obviously and appropriately excited about the first book and may have gotten this wrong in my haste. So just in case Jana DeLeon ever reads this (I appreciate that is highly unlikely) and for reasons of accuracy, she is in fact, Ida Belle.

Moving swiftly on, I know that you know that I finished this book a while ago, but I feel I had to break up the cheese with something a little bit more intellectual. The time has come though, to tell you all about ‘Lethal Bayou Beauty’ by Jana DeLeon, the second ‘Miss Fortune Mystery’ and it’s just as funny, ridiculous and enjoyable as the first one.

For anyone that knows me or has a vague impression of what I am like in real life, they will understand that the idea of a beauty pageant is horrific. I don’t like make-up or being the centre of attention and Fortune is very similar. Due to her cover as Sandy Sue, former beauty queen turned librarian, she has been roped in to helping arrange a junior pageant.  As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, she has to cooperate with Pansy, Celia’s prodigal daughter.

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That is until someone kills her.

Just Fortune’s luck, in her second week in the Bayou when she is trying to lay low, she is being framed for murder.  Can the Sinful Ladies get her out of this one? Can she keep her director in the dark or will her cover be blown? How many times will Carter see her in a state of undress this time?

More Ida Belle and Gertie hilarity, there’s more of Ali’s cakes and despite the mournful tone of the subject matter it is funny! Marie is back and as panicky as ever. The character development of Walter is wonderful and again I just lapped it up. It easy to listen to; fun to be part of and just a bit of silly escapism in a world for of really serious stuff. Somehow during this investigation Fortune finds time to educate herself on some ‘cultural’ references… i mean who knew Lady Gaga wasn’t royalty?!

Dear Reader I have already finished book 3 but I am keeping that in my back pocket for another day. These books make me laugh out loud on my commute which I am not sure is appreciated by all but I think they are classic ‘beach books’. I should really be reading as its lunch time and I have borrowed something completely different (so far S&M, kidnapping and assassins) so until next time… Happy Reading.

Max, Matthew and maps…

So I can’t help but think it’s all over. That this is it, this is the last St Mary’s book.  The last chance we have to see Max watch the world go white.

The blurb of this book says ‘She’s no safer at St. Mary’s. Tragedy strikes not once but several times, and with no Leon, no Markham, and no Peterson at her side, Max’s personal life slowly begins to unravel. From the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Hastings, and from Bayeux Cathedral to the Sack of Constantinople, Max must race through time to save the ones she loves’. 

Whats brilliant Dear Reader, is that although I have listened to 7 of these full stories and several, erm…let’s call them novellas, I honestly thought his name was Malcolm, not Markham… the disadvantages to listening to a book rather than reading it I suppose. I have to say that all those years ago I might have had deliberations of how to pronounce Hermione Grangers name, so the written word isn’t always clearer.

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It was fantastic… Ronan, Max and Peterson where in fact amazing. I missed certain dynamics that had changed and I like this new side of Max. We’ve seen her as a student, adjust to responsibility and grow in strength, we seen her love and survive loss and we’ve seen her as a wife. Now we see her as a Mother… a hopeless, lost, confused but wonderful mother. A strong, faithful and dedicated mother and it was brilliant.

The history was still there, the humour was still there and Jodi Taylor captured the magic of the earlier books. I was reminded of adventures with Kal, it had some of the early carefree jumping but equally the ‘new’ historians kept things interesting. Matthew seemed to fit right in and it was bizarre that i forgot he was a child sometimes.

Did I miss Leon? Kind of. but I love, LOVE LOVED!!! that this was focussed on Max. Everything from the jumps, to pods antics and worry to the tears, joy and anger throughout. It was amazing.

I should say that as much as this is probably FULL of spoilers, it is book 8 in the Chronicles of St Mary’s series and if you haven’t read them, (or listened) you should.
I have 2 more reviews to write so I’m off. Happy Reading!

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