The Satapur Moonstone

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The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry Mystery #2) by Sujata Massey

So I made a booboo. I read this book first, before The Widows of Malabar Hill.

So after I read it, I wrote this review and left it the same.

This book appealed to me as I love the art deco style, when I see that my eyes are just magnetized to it.

The story takes place in 1922. Perveen Mistry left a bad marriage and became a lawyer, the only women lawyer in India-yes, not only the only woman, the only Indian woman. It has been hard at times as women are not always treated well in the ’20s. There are a lot of barriers and people treating her as less, but Perveen will persevere.

However, being an Indian woman lawyer does have its advantages. She was just hired by the British government to travel to Satapur to mediate between the Dowager Maharani (grandma) and the Maharani (mother) of the current Maharajah (just a boy) about where their future leader should attend school. While the British government isn’t in control or ruling Satapur, they heavily “influence” it and as there is no adult male Maharajah, he is a “ward of the state” technically.

The women have been arguing what to do, but every time they send the civil servant out there, he is refused as the women are observing purdah. No unknown males can enter the palace, and the only one who can go is a woman lawyer.

After hearing the amount she is to be paid:

She agrees to the plan and moves forward. But her good feeling doesn’t last as Perveen starts to wonder if this was a bad idea when she has to ride a mail cart to the Circuit House and wait there with the single civil servant, a male civil servant, Colin while the palanquin that is set to take her to the Maharaja is gone. This goes against a lot of customs.

She enjoys staying with Colin, the civil servant, and he likes her too. They both have similar interests, enjoy each other’s company, etc. Colin however is a white Britisher and Perveen is a Parsi, a married Parsi.

The two talk about the Satupar situation and Perveen grows concerned about the Maharajah. His mother the Maharani is very upset and worried he might die. His father passed away last year from cholera and his older brother was killed and eaten by a tiger. However, the quick succession of deaths has Perveen worried-is it an accident or were they killed on purpose?

The Palanquin has to be fixed and Perveen is stuck at the house a bit longer-and Colin throws a dinner party. There she meets a crew of interesting people-Britisher Dr. Andrews, former dancer Mehta, her husband Yazad, and Roderick Ames who has English name and manners but is Indian.

She learns more gossip abut the palace-the current maharajah’s father was in love with a dancer that disappeared in the night (maybe also murdered) and that Mehta was a princess in the palace and almost married the prince before she left India for France. When Mehta hears that Perveen is to go to the palace she tells her she needs to bring a gift to all its royal occupants. After looking at what she wants to take, she declares none are worthy of the Dowager Maharani and Maharani, kindly giving her some items she can give to the Maharani’s, one being a giant moonstone.

She also finds out from Mehta, that the two Maharani’s cannot stand each other.

This is going to be hard.

Finally Perveen is able to head to the palace, getting soaked and almost not allowed in, but is after she gives them the moonstone. The Dowager Maharani claims it was hers originally and stolen by some dancer and she tries to get Perveen to tell her how she got it, but doesn’t believe it came from Paris (what Mehta told her).

Hmm…

In the palace Perveen finds a bad situation. The two Maharanis are always fighting, constantly at odds. Maharani (the mother) is anxious that someone is trying to kill her son. She has been doing everything she can think of to protect him, but wants him out of the palace. The Maharajah’s uncle, Prince Swaroop, is very antagonistic and was with the late Maharajah when he was killed. Could he be trying to get rid of the heir to take it himself?

Perveen knows not who to trust and she almost is poisoned herself! The longer she stays the more she is certain of things: 1) the deaths were not an accident, 2) Perveen needs to get out of there as her life is in danger, and 3) someone is going to try to kill the Maharajah.

Perveen presents her case for schooling and also tries to get them to let her take the Maharajah with her, to protect him, but is refused. As it is clear that they are growing to dislike her, Perveen decides it is best to leave before she is thrown in jail.

She goes to Colin and shares what had happened at the palace and her fears. She isn’t there too long when Prince Swaroop comes accusing her of kidnapping as the prince is missing. Perveen gets on the case as she knows she needs to find him ASAP or else it’ll be too late.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was really good.

I liked that it was historical fiction and I liked how she explained the complexity of religion, class, and the history of India.

Interesting…

It was a great mystery as it captured my attention and I wanted to continue to read it. I figured out part of the book but the end had a twist that eluded me.

I loved it and am planning on reading the first book as soon as I can. (Which I already did.)

For more Perveen Mistry Mysteries, go to The Widows of Malabar Hill

For more Historical Fiction, go to And Only to Deceive

For more lawyer mysteries, go to My Husband’s Wife

 

And Only to Deceive

So every year in December leading up to Christmas I try and post a Christmas mystery. This year I had a really difficult time and had to go out on a bit of a limb. This book isn’t a “Christmas Mystery” but Christmas does play a role so it counts.

And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Mystery #1) by Tasha Alexander

Lady Emily is a widow.

But she isn’t sad as she never loved her husband.

Lady Emily Ashton is an only daughter and all her life her mother has been plotting and planning and maneuvering to get her daughter married off to a wealthy and eligible bachelor.

Emily chose Viscount Phillip Ashton as he seemed less chauvinistic and someone who would be okay to live with-and  of course by marrying she would be free of her mother.

Phillip was interested in the hunt, captured his quarry, and then went on a big game hunt to Africa were he became sick and died.

Emily was given freedom, money, large houses-she had to be absent from society for two years but that was okay as she didn’t really care for it. Life was solitary but it wasn’t bad.

Everything changed when her husband’s best friend came to visit after a year and a half. Mr Colin Hargreaves came to speak to Emily about how he made sure her Greek Villa was all in order, and she is free to go there anytime, just let him know and he will arrange the trip for her, Kallista.

Emily is completely surprised as her husband never said any thing about a villa and he never called her Kallista.

Emily is baffled by this and even more when her butler let’s her know that he fired a footman who was digging in her late husband’s desk. She starts looking to see if anything is missing,-although how would she know as she has never been in there really-and discovers a threatening note.

This is just the firsts in a series that makes Emily realize she knew very little, if anything about her husband. It turns out that he was an avid collector or Greek art-throughly knowledgeable in it and Greek history.

Hmm…

She also finds his journals and reads about his love for her (in incredibly sweet journal entries).

Emily’s interest is piqued and she begins reading Homer’s The Odyssey and researching into Greek art and mythology.

She discovers more things do not add up and that her husband was caught up in a fake antiquary scam. Could it be that he was duped, with all his knowledge and expertise? Or was he the ringleader?

Emily cannot believe the later, and as she reads her husband’s journals, she starts to fall in love with him, and remember wonderful and romantic gestures he would do, but took for granted at the time.

Emily isn’t sure who to trust, besides her old friend Ivy and new friend Lady Cécile du Lac. Colin spends a lot of time around her, and then she discovers that he has been watching her. Why? Could he be the ringleader?

Hmm…

She also meets another friend of her husband, Andrew Palmer, who is fun, light, sarcastic, and likes to party and go out. He gives Emily a lot of attention and she enjoys it, as anyone who has been sent to the sidelines would. He is from noble stock, but has no money. Could he be after her wealth, or is he really interested in her.

Hmm…

Colin and Andrew were both on the hunting trip with her husband, could one of them have killed him?

Then Emily gets a note about her husband being alive! Is he a criminal hiding out? Or was he betrayed by a friend and in need?

Emily sets off on a trek to Africa, will she be happy with what she finds? Or is she heading into a trap?!

Thoughts After Reading:

I really enjoyed this mystery as I liked that Emily was an independent woman with a strong personality and ideas about what she wanted, but at the same time she was still a woman of her times. I hate when people write historical fiction and the people are too much a product of our time. It makes zero sense.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Mail Order Murder

For more historical fiction, go to The Secret Keeper

For more mysteries about widows, go to A Quiche Before Dying

The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This book is told in three different timelines, 1940s, 1960s, and 2011 England with four different narrators: Laurel (1960s + 2011) and Dorothy, Jamie, and Violet (1940s).

1960s

Greenacres

Laurel Nicolson is 16-years old. They are having a party for her little brother Gerald, but instead of going out to the yard to join them in the picnic, she stole away from her large family to the barn loft to read a play and dream about her motorcycle driving bad boy crush.

She decides to go in the treehouse as it is cooler and a better spot. She is sitting up there and spots her mom, Dorothy, holding her little brother and the special birthday cake cutting knife. When all of a sudden a man approaches her mother and brother. She can see her mother is upset, scared? She sets Gerald down as the man speaks to her, and then Laurel watches her mother stab the man, killing him.

The police are called and when questioned, both Laurel and Dorothy’s stories match up with self-defense and that ends the event. Laurel forgets all about it and when she turns 18, leaves the farm and heads to London to pursue acting.

2011

London and Greenacres

Laurel has become a successful actress and has never returned home. She’s stayed in touch and isn’t separated from her family, she just never returned to the farm. Now it is her mom’s 90th birthday, and the family is getting all together to celebrate. Dorothy has dementia and resides in a facility, so Laurel decides to stay at Greenacres.

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While there the whole memory of the killing comes back to her. More questions arise when she looks through their mother trunks that were always off-limits growing up. Laurel realizes that she has no clue who her mother was, and sets out to find out who she was.

I thought I knew my mother, but I was wrong.

1940s

London

Dorothy Smitham has always wanted the finer things in life, to be more-have more. She falls in love with Jimmy Metcalfe, aspiring photographer. She wants to get married, but Jimmy wants to have a job, money, and a place. He goes to London and travels around photographing the city and World War II.

Dorothy follows him to London and starts renting an old closet in a boarding house (housing shortage) and searching for a job. Her friend’s father, a psychologist, gets her hired as a companion to a Lady.

There Dorothy gets the taste of the high life and becomes consumed with moving up. She has always loved nice things and now she lusts after it-doing all she can to be the one the lady leaves her money and wealth to. She cuts all her true friends and Jimmy, to make sure she is exactly what her employer wants.

Dorothy also becomes obsessed with the beautiful socialite across the street, Violet Jenkins. She meets her at a WAC meeting and does all she can to emulate her, and believes them to be friends.

But when Dorothy is betrayed and finds Violet to be at fault, she searches out Jimmy and has him join her in a plan to get back at Violet and get the money to run away and start a farm.

But things don’t according to plan. Violet and Jimmy fall in love and someone winds up dead. Will Laurel be able to handle the truth about her mother?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was really interesting, completely compelling, and had one fantastic twist of an ending.

For more books that take place during World War I, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Phantom of the Opera

A Quiche Before Dying

A Quiche Before Dying (A Jane Jeffry Mystery #3)

Thoughts Before Reading:

So it has been a while since we reviewed one of this mysteries. The story is of widowed mom, Jane Jeffry, getting caught up in a murder mystery and doing her best to take care of her family and solve it at the same time.

As you might have guessed, all the books in the series are reworking of famous films/literature. This one is based on the book or movie A Kiss Before Dying.

Plot Summery:

This summer it is just the girls as Jane’s youngest son, Todd, has gone off with his paternal grandparents (who hate Jane) to Disney World. Her oldest son was off with his best friend and best friend’s father on a tour of colleges.

Katie, Jane’s daughter, is staying home as she has a job as a lifeguard for the summer. The two are to be soon joined by Jane’s mother. Jane and her mother will be taking a memoir writing class, one that Jane is not looking forward to.

Jane’s mother and father worked in the state department and went all over the world, while Jane has had nothing of note in her life. In fact, Jane ends up writing a historical fiction suspense novel instead.

The only sour spot in this whole class is that Mrs. General Agnes Pryce will be one of the classmates. She is a rude boorish woman, and nobody likes her.

The class is run by romance writer Missy Harris and the other classmates are: Jane’s best friend and neighbor, Shelley; Grady Wells, mayor and president of a small company; Ruth Rogers and her newly found sister Naomi Smith; and Desiree Loftus, bohemian artist who’s gone all over the world.

Agnes is just as bad as everyone thought it would be in the class. She even forces them to attend a potluck at her bric-a-brac stuffed house. After the party-Agnes winds up dead! Poisoned!

Which member of the class is the murderer? And will they strike again?

Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like this.

Everything was given at the end really. Just nothing and then one giant reveal. I did not care for it at all. There was no chance to figure out the killer, no real clues, nothing.

Bleh…

For more Jane Jeffry Mysteries, go to A Farewell To Yarns

For more by Jill Churchill, go to Grime and Punishment

For more mysteries, go to A Willing Murder

A Match of Wits

A Match of Wits (Ladies of Distinction #4) by Jen Turano

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I am very unhappy with this book.

Ever since I read the first book in the Ladies of Distinction series, A Change of Fortune I adored Agatha. I thought she was amazing, witty, fun, adorable, etc. She is a women from high class as her father is a wealthy businessman, but refuses to be sold off like cattle to a wealthy man.

Instead she gets a job at a newspaper and writes under a male pseudonym, being an investigative reporter and trying to clean up the city along with giving a voice to those who are disenfranchised.

I was hoping the second book would be all about her, but instead we got Arabella. Initially I was upset and hurt, but A Most Peculiar Circumstance was a good story as we got to learn more about Theodore Wilde and Arabella.

Squeal!

Then we had book three which was about Felicia Murdock?! REALLY?!! We barely even heard of her in the other books, WHY DID SHE GET HER OWN STORY BEFORE AGATHA?!! I’d been waiting for Agatha! This book was awful too, really starting to deteriorate and going downhill.

Ugh!

And then we get this book. We get a book about Agatha that I’ve been waiting FOREVER for and is it good? NO it SUCKS. MAJORLY! WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? I MEAN COME ON!!!.

 So Zayne Beckett has been engaged to Helena for quite some time now and has finally left to join her in the West. Agatha, who has been in love with him since forever, was heartbroken, to see him go but resolved to move on with life.

It has been two years since then and Agatha has been forced to leave New York and travel as their has been multiple threats against her life. She is in Colorado, when to her surprise she comes across Zayne!

What?!

A single Zayne? He did not marry Helena? A dirty mining Zayne that is nothing like the debonair one that left New York? A drunk Zayne that no longer believes in God? And a wounded Zayne, he has a limp in one leg.

Agatha saves him from being robbed by a girl gang, and strikes up their acquaintance again. She finds out that Helena did not want to marry him after all, and he was injured trying to save her in an accident, she ditching him. The accident broke his leg and it was poorly reset, causing him to have a limp.

I hate my life!

Agatha learns all about gold mining from him, planning on doing a story, when they are attacked by the girl gang again. It turns out they want Zayne’s gold along with being assassins hired to hunt down and kill Agatha.

They all head back to New York, where Agatha plans on bringing Zayne back to God and for him to be the man he once was. Zayne on the other hand plots to match Agatha with a man that will keep her out of trouble. Which one will win this match of wits?

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

IT WAS AWFUL!!! This one was incredibly bad. Agatha was such a great character, but they made her incredibly dumb in this and she made horrible decisions. It was completely lackluster and I do not recommend it.

I mean she acted so stupid in everything, running off just asking to be killed. I mean really-you are an intelligent women. It is as of with each book she had a lobotomy.

It was just dumb and deteriorating into stupid stiff. I mean they add a pig sidekick. Really? Really? I hated it.

For more Ladies of Distinction, go to A Talent for Trouble

For more Jen Turano, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more investigative reporters, go to Conspiracy

For more Christian fiction, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

For more historical fiction, go to Weak Flesh

Weak Flesh

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Weak Flesh by Jo Robertson

Thoughts Before Reading:

I got this book for free off BookBub and thought it would be this really interesting mystery.

The book is set in 1901. Pretty, voluptuous Nell Carver has no want for attention and is involved with many men.

One of them has murdered her and left her body in the Pasquotank River.

Marshal Tucker Gage is trying to solve the case, with the unwanted help of Nell’s best friend, and the girl he is very attracted to, Megan Bailey.

Thoughts After Reading:

Turns out I was wrong.

It started off strong, but then just turned into a “bodice ripping” romance novel. The mystery was really interesting until it was totally obvious who the killer was.

Not my cup of tea at all and I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading it.

Don’t read it!

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to A Talent for Trouble

For more not in a series mysteries, go to Alias Grace

For more BookBub books, go to Death by Marriage

For more mysteries, go to Tragic Toppings

A Talent for Trouble

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A Talent for Trouble (Ladies of Distinction #3) by Jen Turano

Thoughts Before Reading:

So thus far we have had a book about Lady Eliza Sumner (Beckett), and Arabella Beckett (Wilder) and even though we have had Agatha Watson as an important character we still don’t have a book about her!

Why not!

That is so unfair! Agatha is one of the best characters!

Instead we get a book on Felicia Murdock! Felicia?!!! We’ve barely spent any time with her and we get a book on her life? Really?!

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Plot Synopsis:

Felicia Murdock has been after the young handsome minister for quite some time now. She has done everything in her dress, actions, volunteer work, and demeanor to prove that she is the best woman for him.

Unfortunately, he has chosen another woman.

Felicia, being upset, decides she needs a drastic change from her life. She throws out her frumpy clothes, let’s down her hair, and starts living life up with no worry for reputation or how this will affect others.

Grayson Sumner, Lord Sefton (and Lady Eliza’s brother), has had a wild time sowing his oats and adventuring. He now is ready to become respectable, live in New York, and raise his adopted Chinese daughter Ming.

He is asked to help raise Felicia’s spirits, but finds her wild spirit the exact opposite of what he wants his life’s path to be; yet at the same time he finds her irresistible.

Unfortunately, Grayson’s past refuses to remain in China and comes to get him; Felicia getting caught up in it. Will they be able to get out of this trouble?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like this book at all. I thought the character of Felicia was annoying.

The first two books were better. I think they had a stronger foundation as we spent time with the characters in the previous books, while not so much with these ones. It seemed very repetitive of the previous book and the end was not very good.

And I’m still mad that Agatha hasn’t had a book yet. She should have been book #2.

For more Ladies of Distinction, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more by Jen Turano, go to A Change of Fortune

For more historical fiction, go to Capital Bride

For more Christian fiction, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

 

Capital Bride

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Capital Bride (Matchmaker & Co. #1) by Cynthia Woolf

Thoughts Before Reading:

I got this book free, all I needed to do was post a review. So here we go.

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Plot Synopsis:

Sarah Johnson finds herself a homeless, unmarried, mother. Even though she is trained as a governess no one would take a mother, let alone an unmarried one.

Her cousin William, who inherits her family’s property, offers to marry her and give her a home. But she knows that that will be the kiss of death for him in society.

She decides there is only one thing left, become a mail order bride for Mr. John Atwood.

John Atwood is a widower, who’s daughter hasn’t spoken a word since his wife was murdered. Will Susan an John work things out and will their kids get along?

The murder comes back and John has to face him and his old demons. But then something more frightening occurs, someone is after Sarah and will stop at nothing to get her. Will she be kept safe, or will she finds herself kidnapped and forced to be the bride of a psychopath.

Oh no!

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Thoughts After Reading:

I received this book free and thought it was horrible. The characters are not from the right time period in manners, speech, culture, and the beliefs.

She also had the “racism” wrong. The East was much more racist than the West, as in the West biracialism, was popular. I felt as if this author did hardly any research into the time period she was writing about.

The plot line is boring and the characters act completely strange and unrealistic. She took things that would have made a great climax and resolved them too soon, realizing afterwards she was missing conflict and pulled out the dumbest and lamest one to use. It was also poorly written as everything just works out fine for the characters, no conflict, realism, or interesting things happen. Very dull and boring.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Alias Grace

For more mail order brides, go to Paper Roses

For more Westerns, go to Loose Screw

For more kidnapping mysteries, go to The Last Suppers

 

Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Thoughts Before Reading:

I actually read this for a history class…

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I know, sweet right! It was a history of the novel class so we read novels and historical fiction novels throughout time.

So here I am posting my review from the class.

One of most fascinating and perplexing parts of Alias Grace is the way in which the author, Margaret Atwood, chooses to narrate the story. She scripts her tale in many different ways so we are given a multitude of views on the subject of whether Grace Marks is a murderess. Along with these assorted depictions, the way in which Grace expresses her story is also mind-bending.

Alias Grace is written in two narratives; first there is Grace revealing her actions in first person and second Dr. Simon Jordan who is told in third person. Along with these we are given letters from people involved in the case of petitioning for a pardon; the Reverend Enoch Verringer, trying to help Grace win her freedom, and Dr. Samuel Bannerling, trying to keep her in.

While the letters evoke the sensibilities of what people would have felt at the time, Dr. Jordan fulfills the reader’s point of view. As he eagerly attempts to get Grace to speak on what happened that night, and to shed more light on the events and characters, the reader hungrily awaits with him. For those who have not grown up in Canada and had never heard of the story before, they can hardly wait for Grace to tell her tale. Dr. Jordan also invokes the doubts and concerns the reader has about Grace, as they too wonder if she is telling the truth or “spinning a yarn”. His view told in third person, only reinforces the idea of his voyeurism into Grace’s life, and our, the reader’s, voyeurism into theirs.

Grace however, has the most interesting narrative style of all. We are told her story from her lips, but yet at the same time we are struck with the idea of not knowing everything about her. In most stories told in first person, one really learns who the character is; how they feel on subjects, are privy to their emotions, can see their deepest desires, and can easily comprehend whether the character is lying or telling the truth. However, in this case we never fully know who Grace is. She tells us many things about herself, but always remains cool and collected, never fully opening up.

In fact one never knows if what Grace tells the doctor or tells herself is fact or fiction. Grace states in the beginning how she learned to act in the way her keepers wanted her to, and that she knew how to give people the things they wanted to hear, (for example making up the dream for Dr. Jordan). That leaves us with the ever-looming question of “what really happened?”. Even when Grace relates the night of the murder, Atwood chose to have it told in Dr. Jordan’s third person view to continue to keep us in the dark. When Grace goes under a trance and manifests as “Mary Whitney” we are also shown that in the third person, and never told how much of the hypnotism was acting and how much real. Did Jeremiah tell her to act as if she was possessed by Mary’s spirit? Or did she come up with the idea of using Mary as her “Mrs. Bates”?

Besides the trouble of trying to shift around to seek the truth, Atwood chose to have Grace’s point of view written without correct punctuation, therefore causing us to never know what is actually spoken aloud and what only reverberates through her head. Did she tell Dr. Jordan everything she tells the reader she tells him, or is she lying to herself and the viewer? Interestingly enough, it almost seems as if Atwood made Grace aware of the reader’s presence, toying with telling us what she wants to, but still always guarded from revealing the whole truth.

Hmm…

This book was a highly entertaining psychological thriller, who’s narrations play within your mind as to what is truth and what are lies, along with what is insanity and what is lucidity; leaving the readers with a sense of never being able to have their questions answered. Atwood trifles with the reader’s mind, giving them breadcrumbs and a trail to follow to find the truth, but in the end leaving one as mixed up as ever as to what really transpired.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to The Falling Machine

For more mysteries based on a real person, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more books from my history class, go to High Road to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Andromeda Strain

For more book reviews, go to Midnight in Austenland

High Sea Adventure

High Sea Adventure (Barbie and Friends Book Club) by Rita Balducci

This story takes place in the 1700s, with Barbie and Midge traveling with Midge’s father, a doctor, to deliver medicine to the Caribbean islands.

Hmm…

They stop at the Cayman Islands, where the girls meet Teresa Rivera, a young lady who is studying to be a nurse and who’s home they will be staying at while Midge’s father gets the hospital up and running.

The island is beautiful, and both Midge and Barbie see it as a paradise. However, this paradise has one bad snake-a pirate called Red Beard. He has been scavenging the locals exports, such as Teresa’s family’s sugarcane; along with stealing shipments of medicine. They hope the Navy captures him soon and ends his terrorizing of the seas. But even if they do, will they ever recover the things he stole?

Teresa shows them around the island when Midge spots a map shop. Hoping to find the perfect gift for her father, Midge goes inside. As she looks at maps she overhears men who look like pirates talking to the owner.

“Tell Red Beak the trade is made…Go to the mouth of the Little Bear.”

Afterwards, Midge tells Teresa and Barbie what she heard. They try to figure out what the message means, but no luck. Later that night, Midge is looking at the stars-trying to remember the names of the all the constellations when she spots Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper or Little Bear.

This strikes a cord with her and she pulls out the map she purchased earlier. There are a series of islands that line up just like that particular constellation. The mouth of the Little Bear the Pirates were talking about must be the cave that lines up with the “mouth” of the stars.

Immediately Midge runs to wake her friends. They go to tell Midge’s father so he can relay the information to the navy. But they are too late, he has already left to search for the pirate ship.

The girls decide it is up to them and they set out on one of Teresa’s family’s boats to test their theory. Will they find the pirate treasure? Or will this be a wild goose chase? Will they stop the pirate? Or be captured by them?

Thoughts After Reading:

This was always one of my favorites as a kid as it had pirates, adventure, and just a lot of fun.

I also loved how the girls save the day.

This is actually one of the better books in the series. In fact all the mysteries are.

For more Barbie books, go to The Silver Deer

For more pirate mysteries, go to Little Betty & Veronica: The Buried Treasure Mystery

For more Children’s books, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more historical fiction, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin

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The Butterfly and the Violin (A Hidden Masterpiece Novel) by Kristy Cambron

This book is two stories intertwining that connect by the end of the novel.

He’s cute!

First we have Adele Von Bron concert violinist and Austria’s sweetheart, living in pre-World War II Europe. She is the daughter of a high ranking Nazi official, but doesn’t agree with his politics as they go against her Christian faith.

She is part of the Philharmonic, where she meets the son of an average man, but the one she falls in love with is, Vladamir.

Everything in her world is changed when she is caught trying to help a Jewish family flee Austria. She is caught and her punishment to be sent to Auschwitz to work in the camps.

But when she gets there, she is set to join Auschwitz’s Women’s Orchestra. There she goes through all kinds of troubles and problems, doing her best to stay alive.

The second half of the book is about Sera James, art gallery owner. She was left at the altar two years ago, and has been completely brokenhearted.

Since then she has focused all her attention on trying to find this painting of Adele Von Bron, one that was created while they were in Auschwitz.

Her research has reached a dead end and Sera is at a loss for the next step until she discovers a a copy of the painting behind an object up for auction at an estate sale. She emails the owner and then receives a plane ticket and request from millionaire and businessman Will Hanover.

She flies out to meet him and finds out that Will Hanover is in a tough spot. His grandfather died recently and left all the money, assets, and business to the owner of the painting of Adele.

He has been searching for the owner when he heard from Sera. He infuriates Sera when he accuses her of trying to steal his family’s fortune.

He returns and asks for forgiveness. The two then begin searching and Sera starts falling for Will. But does Will feel the same way? Or is he just using her to get the painting?

Hmm…

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Thoughts After Reading:

The book wasn’t that good.

The author suffered from trying to do too much with the two story lines that it caused her to fall into overdone clichés and have a lack of character development. The book was rushed too fast to reach a conclusion, and to quote Wayne’s World they made it a “super happy ending”.

I hate it

I didn’t care for it and thought it would be better if it had been focused on either storyline of Adele or the search of the painting instead of stretching the author with these two pairings. Adele’s journey is told in half points with a quick summary of what happened next, and Sera’s search barely anything as the painting felt like it was instantly discovered after the two “joined” forces.

That’s it?

Like Will’s grandpa just choose to leave it to the girl so Will could become a minister instead of taking the mantle of the business. Well that’s fine for him but what about everybody else? Did you even think how that would affect them all?

And what qualifications does that woman have to run a business? I mean really? All he knows of her was what happened in WWII. How do you know she won’t run everything down to the ground?

For more historical fiction, go to Whistling in the Dark

For more books that take place in World War II, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more Christian books, go to The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

For more bible verses, go to Everybody Called Her a Saint

Emilie and the Sky World

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Emilie & the Sky World (Emilie Adventures #2) by Martha Wells

So Emilie is back in another adventure.

Her previous journeys brought her into the center of their world and introduced her to things she never imagined would have existed.

Emilie has finally been able to reach her cousin and gives her all the news, just as their interviews and adventures are published in newspapers all over. But before they can enjoy it, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of Professor and Lady Marlendes, warns them he she has come across something strange and deadly in the sky. There is a disruption in the air aether current.

But as they look into it, they realize it is another ship!

Could it be the one that was lost up there years ago? But impossible, there is no way they could still be alive.

Emilie is going to join the crew again and as they all prepare for the expedition they discover a surprise. Emilie’s uncle has come to take her away. As he screams ugly accusations; Emilie is defended by all.

They leave, but when they’ve started their journey they discover that they have a stow away. It is Emilie’s younger brother Efrain. It must run in the family.

Ugh

When they arrive on the ship it is absent of all people. Strange like the bermuda triangle.

They then find a flower-like creature and the whole group is transported to another world or dimension.

Now Emilie, her brother, and this plant like creature have to find the rest of the crew, return somehow to their ship, and battle a creature who is trying to posses a host and take over the galaxy.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thought it was compelling, interesting, and well put together.

The only thing that bothered me was that Emilie goes on and on about her older brother Erin, but he doesn’t appear in the book. It would have been perfect of he was a part of the stranded air crew and that was why he never come back.

So far there isn’t another book, but I would love to see a third installment.

For more Emilie Adventures, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more books centering on disappearances, go to The Missing Housewife

For more steam punk, go to Ticker

For more science-fiction books, go to The Falling Machine

The Silver Deer

The Silver Deer by Rita Balducci and Gail Herman

I know these are supposed to go in a certain order, but the problem I have is that no site gives the same numbers associated to these books. I decided to just forget doing them in “order” and post.

Am I right?

Lady Barbie and Lady Midge are in their carriage an headed to a visit with friends, Lord Henry and Lady Eve. They are looking out the windows at the rainstorm when they spot a silver deer!

What?

Just then the rain causes the coachman to lose control and they crash with the carriage getting stuck in the mud.

A carriage comes by with the Lady Ann, daughter of the famous, wealthy, and powerful Lord Richard. They help get the carriage out and head to their castle.

Barbie and Midge try to ask Ann about the Silver deer, but then she is strangely sent into a coughing fit. She extends them an invitation to stay and sends someone to let Lord Henry and Lady Eve know about the change of plans.

After a restful nap, Lady Midge and Lady Barbie dress for dinner and greet the party assembled. Once again Barbie tries to talk about the Silver Deer, but Ann changes the subject again. 

A minstrel comes and plays a song for the feast:

I love the merry spring weather

That is coming here so soon.

The flowers grow quickly,

By the light of the sun and the moon.

The forest is so cool and dark,

Its path roam far and near.

Who knows what magic it does have,

Who knows of the silver deer?

But before he can finish, Ann changes the subject by requesting a different song.

What is this silver deer, and what does Ann know and is not telling?

For more Barbie books, go to The Secret of the Three Teardrops

For more Children’s books, go to Sam the Cat: Detective

For more historical fiction, go to The Falling Machine

The Falling Machine

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The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam #1) by Andrew P. Mayer

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I was recommended this book by a friend. She loved it as it was steam punk, historical fiction, and involved superheroes.

What?

Yes, superheroes. It seemed like a sure winner…yet I…oops! Getting ahead of myself.

Plot Summary:

The time is 1880. The place, New York City. The girl? Nineteen-year-old socialite, Sarah Stanton.

Sarah is the only child of Alexander Stanton, a leading industrialist (and his superhero name) and founding member of Paragon, the steam punk version of the Avengers or the Justice League.

Also in the Paragon is Sir Dennis Darby, the leader of the Paragons and inventor who builds and improves the costumes of each. He is Sarah’s favorite person and mentor.

The Submersible, a German officer who was disgraced and came to America. He is named for his aquatic equipment.

Sleuth; a tall, Brit and highly intelligent in solving mysteries.

Iron-Clad, once able to destroy things with his iron fists and armor, but now stuck in a wheelchair.

And the newest member being Nathaniel as Turbine, a Rocketeer type guy, and Sarah’s old childhood friend.

There is one other member, a robot built by Sir Darby; Automaton or Tom for short. The other members don’t particularly like him, but put up with him for Darby.

Sarah, unfortunateky, will never be able to join Paragon because of her sex. She has wanted to be like her father, but their relationship has gone incredibly downhill since the death of her mother.

When Sarah was a child she was snooping in places she shouldn’t have been and revealed her father’s secret identity to the wrong person. She and her mother were kidnapped, her father only being able to save her. Since the death of her mother her father has been more closed and concentrated on stopping evil, not open to any new ideas like Sarah joining their ranks.

This day Sarah was out with Sir Darby, Tom, and Nathaniel to check out the new Brooklyn Bridge. They are at the top, when the foreman reveals that he is no such thing. He is Bomb Lance.

Haha, Bomb Lance. That makes me think of Bomb Voyage from The Incredibles.

Anyways, he turns out to be a member of the Brotherhood…whoops I mean the Children of Eschaton. He was hired to kill Sir Darby, of which he accomplishes; along with wounding Nathaniel.

Before he can finish him and Tom off, he is stopped by Tom and the warning shot he had fired. Bomb Lance steals a key from Sir Darby that he was after and takes off in a getaway hot air balloon.

The Paragons and Sarah find themselves at a loss and uproar over Sir Darby’s death. Sarah and Sleuth are both heartbroken at the loss of their friend and eager to find out who tried to kill him and why.

Meanwhile, the others are saddened by his death but also at odds over what he left behind. In his will he left the leadership of Paragon to Tom!

All argue over it: Sleuth wants to honor Sir Darby’s wishes while Nathaniel, Alexander, and the rest agree that having a machine be in charge is not the best idea. Yes he will be logical, but he isn’t human and doesn’t have the same heart. Alexander gets voted in instead.

Meanwhile, the Paragons don’t want Tom repairing himself after the Bridge incident as they want him to not gain any power or fall under the wrong control, as Darby is no longer leading him. They have all meet horrible machines who tried to destroy innocent people.

However, the Sleuth needs his help to investigate, especially as the Sleuth believes that someone in Paragon is either the leader of the Children of Eschaton or working with them. He confides in Sarah, who then takes it upon herself to aid in the investigation; believing it might be her father.

Seriously?

The Sleuth goes undercover to try and discover more about the Children of Eschaton but ends up having his cover blown by the inside man. He is almost killed, but is aided by a member of the CoE, Anubis, and he manages to get away.

Hmm…

Who killed Sir Darby? Who is the leader of the Children of Eschaton? Who is this mysterious Anubis? With every page the Sleuth and Sarah encounter more and more questions as they hunt for the truth.

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Thoughts After Reading:

Usually the books my friend recommends I love but I actually couldn’t stand this one.

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It had a lot of plot holes, its characters weren’t all that endearing, and I thought it was just bad.

My first problem was Sarah Stanton. Our main character that we are supposed to love because she wants to be a superhero and do more than marry and pick out clothes; she should be relatable but is just annoying.

Seriously!

For the first two thirds of the book she goes on and on about how horrible her father is. He won’t support her dreams. He never spends time with her. He hardly talks to her or looks at her, etc. We start thinking that her father is a horrible guy until she reveals what happened with her mother. All I can think is well Duh! Sarah. Your mistake cost your mother’s life! He probably can’t stand being with your because you look like your mother and it hurts him to se you knowing he didn’t protect her. Or maybe he blames himself for the whole situation as he just had to be a superhero. or maybe he blames Sarah. He’s not an ogre, he’s just grieving; after all he lost the love if his life.

And that explains why he never wants you involved. Part of it is the society views of where women should be but also he already lost one important woman in his life, I’m sure he doesn’t want to lose a second.

The Sarah-Tom relationship was weird too. Tom was just his plain old robotic self, but Sarah had the hots for him. She kept going on about describing his body’s six-pack or naked form. She tried to protect him and believed in him more than her “real human” friends. I don’t know if the author will continue that but a human and a cyborg getting together is just weird.

The Nathaniel relationship was weird too. Nathaniel goes on and on about how Sarah’s views of women’s roles is wrong, making them constantly at odds. But then the author is trying to plan a romance between them?

And then they suddenly reveal that they are step siblings!

Yeah, when did that happen? They talk of Sarah’s mother as being only Sarah’s mother. And Alexander never mentions being married before and says that after her death he could never remarry. Sarah and Nathaniel are close in age and said they grew up together. How could he have been a stepbrother? It doesn’t fit at all and was just weird.

I hated how Sarah thought everyone was crazy because they were unsure about Tom. Tom would never hurt anyone, Tom is our friend, blah, blah, blah…uh Sarah Tom is a machine. And a machine does what it is programmed to. It has no heart or soul. I agreed whole0heartedly with Nathaniel, the opposite of the author’s intention I’m sure.

I also thought the storyline was BORING. Sarah kept talking about when her dad was younger and the first superhero, and all the villains they fought at the beginning of Paragon and I thought that would be a much more interesting story. I would love to read that more than the sequel to this book. Please make a prequel!

And the thing I hated the most about this book? They leave you hanging at the end.

WHAT!

Yes, the Sleuth figures out who the leader is but is killed. At the very end Sarah finds his book of notes, running away, leaving you to have to read the next book to figure out the ending. I hate when authors do that. I think it is a cheap ploy to ensure that you will sell more copies as people are willing to plunk down their money to answer question. Bad move.

I actually don’t care about finding out who the leader is as I didn’t even care for this book that much. But as I started, I promise to finish the series, the same way I am doing it for everything else. It’s a hard job, but I will try.

For more steam punk books, go to Ticker

For more books recommended by friend, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more historical fiction, go to Whistling in the Dark

For more book reviews, go to The Madwoman Upstairs

Whistling in the Dark

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Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Sally O’Malley promised on her father’s deathbed to tell her sister Margaret “Troo” O’Malley that he forgives her and to keep her safe. But that will be harder than she thinks.

During the summer of 1959, the girl’s mother is hospitalized with a staph infection, their stepdad abandons them, their big sister Nell is too preoccupied with her boyfriend, and their is a murderer and molester on the loose.

Sally may have a big imagination, but she is sure she knows who the killer is.

She is just as sure that she is on the list.

And know it is up to her to keep her sister and her safe.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t care for this book at all.

I didn’t like the style it was written in and I didn’t like how it markets itself as more of a suspense when in reality it is actually tale of two girls growing up in 1959 Milwaukee.

Ugh, really?

I thought it was boring and a waste of my time.

For more historical fiction, go to Murder and the First Lady

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mystery reviews, go to Dust to Dust