A Fragile Design

A Fragile Design (Bells of Lowell #2) by Tracie Peterson and Judith McCoy Miller

Arabella Newberry is angry with her father and his choices. Instead of caring for his family he decided to force them to join the Shaker Community, where all share in the toil and all are cared for.

Years have passed, and Arabella is old enough to fend for herself and decides to leave. She plans to go with her best friends Daughtie and Jesse and head to Concord, MA to find her mother’s relatives, and if she cannot-move on to Lowell, MA and work in the factories.

That night of their escape, Jesse does not show up, but the girls continue on their way. They make it to Concord and see Arabella’s family, but they have just moved back and don’t have a lot of money, so they continue on to Lowell, MA.

Plan B!

There in Lowell, the girls stay at Addie’s boarding house, like Lily did in the previous book, and begin working in the factory. Arabella adjusts well, while Daughtie has a harder time.

Taylor Manning has just moved from England to work with his uncle on the designs for the factory and this English rascal has his eye on Arabella-who is not interested in getting involved with a man and especially one doesn’t serve God.

Meanwhile, things are heating up in the town as it is growing more and more each day and the factory owners are losing their control. To add further troubles, lots of Irish women are disappearing. As the Irish are seen as low and not wanted, the police and people don’t care-saying the girls are running off.

They are being kidnapped.

But then a mill girl disappears and all begin to worry. Who could be behind this? Where are the women? And will they find the culprit before another one is kidnapped?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this one was not as interesting as the first book, Daughter of the Loom, but I liked that they realistically showed how the Irish people were being treated. It was an interesting story and mystery.

For more Bells of Lowell, go to Daughter of the Loom

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Ruby in the Smoke

Daughter of the Loom

Daughter of the Loom (Bells of Lowell #1) by Tracie Peterson and Judith McCoy Miller

The year is 1828, Lowell, MA has been created to be the textile capital of the United States with factories, girls from all over working them, and a promise of prosperity for all.

Yay!

All except Lily Armbruster. Lily was born in the town before it was named Lowell, before the factories, and she hates the changes that were made. Her brother Lewis sold their farm and stole the money, her fiancé Matthew Cheever betrayed her by working for the Boston Association, and her father died of a broken heart from losing the farmland.

Lily has decided she is going to destroy the Boston Association and the mills, by being hired as a factory girl and sabotaging it from the inside out.

She moves into a company owned boarding house and finds herself befriending the other workers and the boarding house keeper, Miss Adelaide, they all becoming her family.

Even though she doesn’t want to harm her friends, she is determined to not be deterred from her goal. But before she can start anything, someone else starts sabotaging the mills. Could this be a sign from God that she is on the right track? Or does someone have their own vendetta against the mills.

Hmm…

Matthew keeps coming back into Lily’s life trying to get together with her, even though she constantly rebuffs him, but will she change her mind? Is he the man she is supposed to be with? He’s not the only bad penny to turn up as her brother Lewis also decides to return to Lowell with nefarious reasons why.

Hmm…

Will Lily continue her vigilante justice? Or give up her plan? And if Lily isn’t the one sabotaging the mills, who is?

Thoughts After Reading:

I found this to be an extremely compelling historical fiction novel. I loved reading about Lowell, and went down a historian rabbit hall researching more about it.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Ruby in the Smoke

For more mysteries, go to Pretend You Don’t See Her

Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Mystery #1) by Phillip Pullman

Veronica “Sally” Lockhart’s father has just passed away. Her father had traveled to China to look into some of his accounts there as he felt something fishy was going down and wanted to speak to a Van Eeden for help. The ship went down and sixteen year old Sally finds herself at loose ends. She has to stay with a distant relative Aunt Rees, who hates her.

She then receives an anonymous note about the “seven blessings”. She heads over to her father’s former shipping agency to speak to his partner Selby, but he is out and she has to talk to Mr. Higgs. She asks him about the seven blessings and he has a heart attack dying of fright.

She mets Jim Harper, boy messenger, who was listening in. He thinks Higgs knew something and was doing something shady. He agrees to help her and keeps the real story secret along with having his eyes and ears open to anything and everything in the office.

Keeping an eye out for you

What are the Seven blessings? It must be something horrible if it can cause a heart attack.

Hmm…

Meanwhile a mean cruel hag has been blackmailing a Mr. Marchbanks, former Major in the military. She finally has what she wants, but then Mr. Marchbanks does a switch on her. He spots Sally’s name in the newspaper and knows he must contact her.

Sally returns “home” (as it is no real home) and she receives a letter from Mr. Marchbanks asking her to visit as he has information for her. She thinks it might be about the Seven Blessings and heads over there.

Hmm…

Meanwhile, a sailor, Matthew Bedlam, groggy from sealife and opium has come to London. He is searching for Sally as he has a message from her father but has to stop and stay somewhere, he cannot go any further. He stops at the hag’s boarding house, and when she overhears some of his words-imprisons him upstairs to get more info. She’s never one to pass on an opportunity.

Hmmm…?

Sally goes to Marchbanks, but gets lost and has to ask a handsome photographer for help. He points the way saying that he did the same not too long ago for an old witch.

Sally arrives at the house and Marchbanks is scared stiff. Mr. Marchbanks is freaking out as doesn’t want “her” to find Sally so he gives her a diary that is coming apart and says it rightfully belongs to her.

Mrs. Holland is angry that the ruby that was promised to her is no longer in the bank. She is harassing Machbanks, and when she finds out he is giving it away, she murders him and heads after Sally.

Sally hides out in Fredrick’s photography tent, and he helps her. He wants to ride with her on the train to potect her, but she declines taking his card instead. On the train she starts to read the diary-an account of when Major Marchbanks served in India along with her father. She starts to read the story, but falls asleep. When she wakes up, she discovers the diary has been stolen! The only thing left is a note to find “it”, but what?

Sally goes home and is berated by Aunt Rees. That night Mrs. Holland sends a man to pinch any papers from Sally. He doesn’t find what they are looking for but does steal her gun. He goes to deliver it to Mrs. Holland, but is murdered.

Sally wakes the next morning and knows her belongings have been riffled through and things are missing. Her aunt accuses her of lying and Sally decides to leave.

She has nowhere to go and ends up in Fredrick Garland’s house living with him and his sister Rose and their assistant Trembler. Sally has no “skills” useful for woman’s job, but has an affinity for numbers and business and helps the Garland photography studio start making money.

Meanwhile, Matthew has begged Adelaide, Mrs. Holland’s servant girl to contact Sally Lockhart and she heads to the shipping agency. There she runs into Jim and gives him her information.

Hmm…

Jim contacts Sally and they search for Matthew’s minister brother, Nicholas. They are twins and Nicholas has been waiting for his brother to return. He goes with Fredrick to find him and bring him home. After a tussle with Mr. Berry (Mrs. Holland’s muscle) and Mrs. Holland they bring Matthew back. After a long wait Matthew reveals that Sally’s father was murdered. There is a gang called the Seven Blessings, a part of the Triads,  and run by the terrible pirate Ah Ling. They didn’t want her father to reveal what they were doing, smuggling opium, and murdered him and the whole ship. Matthew barely escaped.

Meanwhile, when buying opium for Matthew, Sally went under and was affected by the opium. She had the nightmare, the same one she is always affected by. Something about India, Marchbanks and her father. It turns out to be a memory but what does it mean?

Hmmm…

So Sally has two adversaries and three mysteries. Where is the item Major Marchbanks wanted, the Ruby?

What happened in India when she was a child?

Hmm…

Who is this mysterious man that killed her father? Will she be able to figure it out before the killer strikes again?

Thoughts After Reading:

This was an extremely intriguing mystery with a lot of fun characters.  I enjoyed every page of it, and who Ah Ling turned out to be was a great twist!

For more historical fiction, go to Child of the Mist

For more Young Adult Fiction, go to Paper Valentine

Child of the Mist

Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills #1) by Kathleen Morgan

Thoughts Before Reading:

I got this book free on BookBub, which can be a hit or a big miss. Let’s see how this one goes…

Synopsis:

Scotland 1565

Scotland in the 16th century was a time when superstitions ran rampant and witches were burned.

Two families have warred for century and a new blood feud has arisen between Clan MacGregor and Clan Campbell. After a series of bloodshed between the two and the capture of the leader of the Campbells, the leader of the MacGregors has come up with a solution: unite the houses in matrimony.

Both parties are not happy about it, as Anne MacGregor is a feisty, independent woman who has been raised with the ideology that all Campbells are disgusting barbarians. Niall Campbell wants nothing to do with the MacGregors as he has been raised to hate them by birth.

However, both agree to wed as both have been trained from the womb that their people come first. It isn’t an easy marriage as both are upset they have no real say in the matter, they are from different cultures (Anne likes to do herbal remedies and roam about, the Campbells are extremely superstitious and don’t believe their women should go about on their own).

To make matters worse, Niall knows that the only way his men were lately ambushed and he was captured was that someone had betrayed him. And not just someone…it had to be his cousin or uncle or one of his closest friends. But which one?

Hmm…

Niall tries to figure out who betrayed him, while trying to protect Anne who isn’t fitting into the Campbell life.

But then Anne starts to fall in love with her husband and tries to do all she can to root out the betrayer and help her new people. Will Niall discover the betrayer in time? Or will Niall and Anne lose their lives before he can discover the truth?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was really interesting until the jealousy and yelling of the main romantic lead really started to annoy me.

I’m so disappointed.

Plus the fact that if he and Anne just talked or if he bothered to talk to people instead of yelling, things might not have gotten so crazy. His yelling how he wasn’t a liar and her having to understand his “trust issues” just gave me flashbacks of my abusive ex-husband.

Plus it was super obvious who the betrayer was. It was like think, Niall think!!!

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to The Satapur Moonstone

For more witches, go to The View from Prince Street

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