The Tell All by Libby Howard

35443185Kay Carrera is in her sixties and going through a lot. She is grieving the loss of her husband Eli and recovering from cataract surgery. Kay knows she can’t afford her house anymore and her only options are to either sell her home or have it repossessed. Luckily, her friend advises her to get a roommate to help pay for the costs. Judge Beck is going through a divorce and looking for a place to live with his children for a couple of years. It seems like the perfect solution for Kay’s problems, but when she accidentally finds a body, she is going to need all the help in the world to elude the killer who’s coming after her.

This is book one in the Locust Point Mystery Book series. At barely one hundred and fifty-three pages, this little story is interesting enough from a character development point of view but lacks substance for plot development.

One of the first things I noticed about the book was that the summary on Goodreads alluded to ghosts and Kay’s ability to see ghosts. I believe that might be something that will get covered in other books in the series, but this first book does not mention it at all.

The Tell-All is a cute, cozy mystery that gives an introduction of the main characters in this series. Kay is a lovable widow in her sixties who is just trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She works part-time for a P.I., she finds a body and a mystery she needs to resolve. She owns a cat named Taco, and her best friend is Daisy. About half of the book is just about presenting these characters, and whatever is left of the book is rushed to explain the mystery.

I’m hopeful that the other books will have more room to develop an exciting plot and mystery.


Format: Kindle Edition, 153 pages
Published: July 24th, 2017
ASIN: B072R235GS
Series: Locust Point Mysteries #1
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

 

91gesYReZ1L It is 1887. London is a city preparing for the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and Veronica is burying her spinster aunt. Orphaned Victoria is now free to resume her adventures and world travels. When she successfully defeats her own attempted abduction thanks to the help of a German baron, she is forced to seek sanctuary at the care of a man named Stoker. Shortly before the baron reveals what he knew about her attempted abduction; the baron is found murdered. Now, Veronica and Stoker are on the run searching for the truth about her assailant.

I’m going to start by saying that I’m probably in the minority here. I had read and heard raving reviews about this book and series, and I even bumped other books in my list to read this one first. So, what happened? Well, I’d like to start by saying that I love a strong female character. I have no problem reading historical fiction books that depict smart, independent women. The book, overall, is well written and I enjoyed the sparkling dialogue between Veronica and Stoker. However, the problem I found with Veronica Speedwell was that she just wasn’t that nice of a person. Witty, smart, and independent–yes. However, she was also extraordinarily narcissistic and insensitive. At the start of the book, she is attending the funeral of her aunt that adopted her, and she is lamenting the fact that she can’t even shed a tear over her aunt’s death? Another problem I found was with the mystery itself, which I found rather blah.

The book started slowly for me, and I struggled to get into it until chapter eight. After that, I was interested in the book for a while, and certainly enough to finish the book, but not enough to be looking forward to reading the next books in this series.


Format: Hardcover, 337 pages
Published: September 1st, 2015 by NAL/Penguin
ISBN: 0451476018
Source: Library loan
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

915wEJd29NLDreamer’s pool is the first book in the Blackthorn & Grim series. It’s an easy fantasy book that tells the story of a healer, Blackthorn, who after being wrongly imprisoned, makes an agreement with a mysterious fey in exchange for help escaping prison.

Blackthorn travels north to Dalriada where she is bound to live and serve the population for seven years as part of her agreement. Unbeknownst to her, Grim, her prison neighbor follows her to Dalriada and together they will form a partnership.

Oran is the prince of Dalriada, and he’s engaged to beautiful Lady Flidais who he only knows through photographs and letters. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride, Oran senses something is wrong when lady Flidais arrives, and she’s nothing like the sweet and sensitive woman he found in her letters. With the wedding imminent, Oran sees no way out of this engagement, and he will need the help of Blackthorn and Grim to get him out of this tight situation.

Dreamer’s pool is told by different characters with each chapter alternating between Oran, Blackthorn and Grim’s point of view. I liked the structure of this book as it allowed the reader to get to know a little more about the characters. The pace of the narrative is slightly slower than I would have liked, but not enough to ruin the experience. Fans of Daughter of The Forrest or any other book by Marillier will not be disappointed. The book has some mentions of rape and abuse, but nothing too graphic for sensitive readers. Blackthorn is a reliable and likable character, and I loved her quirky relationship with Grim.
I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in future novels.


The Sunday Post

 

IMG_1619The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about the upcoming week.

Happy Sunday! It’s 69 degrees in Nevada and I’m not complaining! Spring has certainly sprung here with cooler mornings and warmer days. The pollen count is also super high, so allergies are at their worst this time of the year.

IMG_1620

I started out this week with a review of Melanie Golding’s Little Darlings, a book that, although not published yet, has generated a significant amount of buzz. Let me tell you that the buzz is worth it. This is probably one of my favorite books this year. Considering that this is Melanie Golding’s debut novel and there is already talk of a movie deal gives you a bit of perspective.

41806986

Review of Little Darlings

I followed with a review of Adrienne Chinn’s The Lost Letter From Morocco a book that is by no means a bad novel, but just didn’t really live up to my expectations.

42972180

 Review of The Lost Letter From Morocco

I finished the week with a book from my long forgotten The Classics Club Challenge list. I had five years to read fifty classics. In a little more than a year from now my challenge ends and I’m not even half-way done. Needless to say, I foresee a significant number of classic book reviews coming up this year.

Wide Sargasso Sea is Jean Rhys’ masterpiece. I mean, it only took her twenty-seven years to write it. I really loved this book. I think it was a great complement to Jane Eyre. It is definitely worth reading it, if not for some of the social/racial themes of the book and the beautiful and sensual imagery she uses to depict the Caribbean.

25622780

Review of Wide Sargasso Sea

IMG_1621

We’ll start the week with a review of a fantasy book by the wonderful Juliet Marillier, The Dreamer’s Pool.

Image result for Dreamer's pool

We’ll move on to review the first book in the Veronica Speedwell series, A Curious Beginning.

Image result for A curious beginning

And we’ll finish this week with a review of Libby Howard’s The Tell-all, a Locust Point Mystery.

Image result for The Tell-all libby

How about you? How’s your Sunday going and what books do you plan on reviewing this week? Have you read any of the books listed? If you have, let me know your thoughts 🙂

 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

 

25622780Wide Sargasso Sea is Jean Rhys’ account of Antoinette (Bertha) Mason (aka Cosway). Fans of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will recognize her as Rochester’s insane wife from the West Indies he kept locked in an attic. Bronte never indeed developed the character of Antoinette, leaving readers to wonder what kind of life Antoinette had and had she always been mad? In 1966, Jean Rhys finally completed Wide Sargasso Sea after working on it for nearly twenty-seven years.

The novel is structured in three parts with Antoinette and Rochester’s alternating point of view. The first and second part takes place in the West Indies, and the third part is only Antoinette’s point of view while living in England.

The story starts with Antoinette’s description of her childhood and the difficulties her family faced living in Jamaica in the 1830s shortly after the end of slavery when racial tensions were at its highest. As a white Creole child, Antoinette lives with her mother and sick brother in poverty until her mother re-marries wealthy Mr. Mason.

481558

Racial problems are also one of the major themes of this novel. When racial tensions erupt during Antoinette’s childhood, black workers burn down her house, Coulibri, a plantation house and symbol of oppression. After the fire that culminates in the death of her sick brother, Antoinette’s mother goes mad, and Mr. Mason places Antoinette in a convent until the age of eighteen when she leaves to marry Rochester.

“They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.”

Isolation is another strong theme in this novel, be social isolation, geographical isolation, as well as the isolation Antoinette suffers throughout the story. First, the abandonment and lack of love from her mother, the betrayal of her friend Tia, and ultimately the isolation she feels from Rochester. The entire novel has a very oppressive and claustrophobic feel to it.

The second part of the novel revolves around Antoinette and Rochester’s marriage. A marriage which is sour from the beginning. Rhys makes a point to demonstrate the couple’s incompatibility and inability to understand each other. Rochester’s failure to be flexible and to adapt to his new surroundings and new way of life, and Antoinette lack of communication skills.

“I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers, and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty, and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.”

In the third and final part of the book, Rochester and Antoinette move back to England after the death of Rochester’s father and older brother. The story changes again to Antoinette’s point of view. The move to England and the isolation from everything she’s ever held dear, including Rochester, drives her to insanity, and the novel ends with the house fire.

I really loved this book. I think because I also felt a need to know more about Antoinette and Rochester’s story. I loved the way she depicted the Caribbean with such rich and sensual imagery. This is indeed a masterpiece where Rhys was able to beautifully merge her story to a very known novel and do it all with immense style and sensibility.

“She’ll not dress up and smile at herself in that damnable looking-glass […] I’ll take her in my arms, my lunatic. She’s mad but mine, mine. What will I care for gods or devils or for Fate itself. If she smiles or weeps or both. For me.”

This novel is part of my list of books in The Classics Club Challenge


Format: Paperback, 171 pages
Published: January 25th, 2016 by W. W. Norton Company (first published October 1966)
ISBN: 0393352560
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Postmodern Literature

The Lost Letter From Morocco by Adrienne Chinn

 

42972180This is the story of Addy who lives in London and has breast cancer. During a break from her chemotherapy treatment, she comes across a lost letter in which her late father reveals that he had fallen in love with a Moroccan woman. Together with the letter she also finds pictures of her father and the Moroccan woman in which it appears the woman might have been pregnant.

Determined to find answers to this mystery, she decides to travel to Morocco to follow in her father’s footsteps and hopefully meet her half-sibling. In Morocco, she meets a Berber who starts out as her tour guide but soon develops into something else.

The Lost Letter From Morocco is the typical example of a novel that has all the elements to be a great read. Exotic place, the possibility of romance, a character battling severe illness, you get the idea. However, it failed to deliver it. I struggled with the end which I thought did not do service to the rest of the novel. It was not the type of book I expected to be.

I’d like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: ARC
Published: March 7th, 2019
ASIN: B07H54D1GT
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Avon Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

 

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

 

41806986Shortly after the birth of her twins, Lauren is recovering in the hospital when she hears a woman singing an eerie song. Concerned that the woman will wake up her twins, Laura approaches her and asks her to stop singing. The woman, dressed in ragged and dirty clothes seems to be singing to her own baby twins. When Lauren approaches her, the woman presents Lauren with an offer–her dirty and filthy creatures, for Lauren’s own sweet, perfect babies. When Lauren refuses, the crazed woman attempts to steal the babies away. Fearing for her life and for the lives of her twins, Lauren hides in the bathroom and calls the police. When the police arrive, there are no signs of an intruder in the hospital. Nurses and doctors deny the presence of an intruder and everyone turns to Lauren questioning her sanity. Could she be having some sort of post-natal psychosis?

If you have ever had children and by that I mean if you have ever birthed children, you are well aware of how exhausting the process is. If you ever had twins, then you also know the amount of work and lack of sleep that comes with them. Golding is superb in describing these initial days right after bringing a baby home. You can relate to the desperation that the new parents, Lauren and Patrick, are feeling. Lack of sleep and the constant demands of two newborn babies can drive anyone a bit nuts. Golding has a beautiful way of describing a scene that puts the reader in the middle of the action, and at times it’s hard to discern if Lauren is just one over-exhausted new mother, or if indeed some evil force is trying to take her babies away. Little Darlings is the debut novel of Melanie Golding. This is a suspenseful, addictive, and intelligent drama that mixes well the themes of myth, parenthood, pain, guilt, and psychosis. The ending is brilliant and by far one of the best novels I have read this year.

Little Darlings is scheduled to be published on April 30, 2019.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: ARC
Published: Expected publication: April 30th, 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1683319974
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Thriller

 

The Sunday Post

IMG_1619

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

Happy Sunday, everyone! I’m very happy with my reading accomplishments this week and I hope you are too. I don’t always post a review of all the books I read in a week, but I can tell you that this week was a hodgepodge of really good books and not so good books.

Spring is such a great time to get some reading done. Not only because I teach a much fewer number of classes during spring, but because I’m just always so inspired to get out there and read. The weather is absolutely awesome in my neck of the woods, and I’m certainly taking advantage of this weather before the crazy, unrelenting summer comes around.

IMG_1620

I started this week catching up on some of my previous reads that had never made it into a formal review.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz opened the week with a bang. Although I gravitate towards books regarding the Holocaust and WWII in general, this book was not quite what I was expecting.

38359036

Review of the Tattooist of Auschwitz

 

For quite some time I’ve considered myself an Agatha Christie fan, and that was because until recently I had not really found any books of hers that I didn’t like. Well, that all changed when I came across a little book called The Secret Adversary. The first book in the Tommy and Tuppence Series I really struggled to get through this book. Unlike Christie’s earlier books, such as the wonderful The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Secret Adversary had a very strange format. It read more like a spy novel than a mystery novel, and the dialogue was strange and convoluted.

49596

 Review of The Secret Adversary

I ended the week with my third book by B.A. Paris–The Breakdown. B.A. Paris has a great talent for interesting stories and original plot. The Breakdown is a suspenseful novel that does not disappoint and will probably keep me going back to this author.

31450633

Review of The Breakdown

 

IMG_1621

This upcoming week starts with a review of a novel by Adrienne Chinn, Lost Letter From Morocco set against the beautiful and exotic background of Morocco. Then I switch gears to a mystery thriller that has kept me up all night–Little Darlings by Melanie Golding. I top off this upcoming week with a much needed back to classics with my review of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Wide Sargasso Sea is one of the fifty books in my Classics Club Challenge.

42972180

41806986

IMG_1650

How about you? what will you be reading/reviewing this week?

The Breakdown by B.A Paris

31450633

It’s late at night and Cassie is driving on a deserted road when she almost hits a car that seems to be broken down on the side of the road. When she drives by the car, she sees the figure of a woman on the driver side. It’s raining, and Cassie is hesitant about leaving her car to help a stranger. After mulling and weighing all the risks of helping strangers in the middle of the night, Cassie decides she is better off not getting involved and decides to drive home. The next day, Cassie learns in the news that a woman was brutally murdered on the same road around the same time she was driving the night before. Cassie becomes consumed with guilt over the fact that she didn’t stop to help the stranger, only to find out that the woman was no stranger at all but someone she once met at a party and even went out to lunch on one occasion. This knowledge plunges Cassie in a downward spiral of guilt, fear, and paranoia. Cassie, who once considered herself a little absent-minded now starts to forget everything from where she parked her car, to ordering an alarm system to her house, and buying a baby stroller when she is not even pregnant. Completely paranoid that she might be suffering from the same illness as her late mother–early onset dementia, the only people Cassie can rely on are her husband Matthew and her best friend, Rachael.

The Breakdown is the third book I read from B.A. Paris, and just like my last review on Bring Me Back, The Breakdown has a solid premise. Unfortunately, B.A Paris once again makes similar mistakes to her earlier novel. Unlike Bring Me Back where the end is entirely improbable, you figure out the plot of The Breakdown half-way through the book, and what follows is a series of Cassie’s constant whiny dialogues and endless pages of text messages that were completely unnecessary once you figure out the plot. The ending is anti-climatic and predictable.

On the positive side, I always give kudos to authors who can create characters that annoy me. Characters that are so well written that I can hear their voices in my head or imagine what they look like. These types of characters are alive, and Cassie was one of them, however much I disliked her as a person. For that reason and the fact that the book holds a lot of suspense and interest for the first half of the book, I’m recommending it to fans of the genre.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

49596

The first in the Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries. This is probably my least favorite book by Agatha Christie. I really struggled to get into this book. The characters did not appeal to me at all. The language was off, and I don’t mean in the sense that this novel was written over ninety years ago. The main character, Tuppence was silly and childish. The dialogue between Tuppence and Tommy was convoluted and strange, not at all what I am used to reading in her novels. I missed Agatha Christie’s classical whodunnit style of story as this book felt more like a spy story than a mystery.  Not to mention that I figured out the plot half-way through the book and the second half just dragged on and on. The Secret Adversary was the second book published by Agatha Christie after her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a book I absolutely loved. I’m not sure what Christie was trying to do with this book, but it did not work for me, and I’m not really looking forward to the other books in the series.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF