Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

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A Brush With Death by Ali Carter

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In the village of Spire, murder is afoot. Wealthy landowner Alexander, Earl of Greengrass is caught with his trousers down in the village graveyard before meeting a gruesome end. Luckily Susie Mahl happens to be on hand. With her artist’s eye for detail and her curious nature, she is soon on the scent of the murderer…

Review

Susie Mahl is an artist who specializes in pet portraits. While staying with friends, the Earl and Countess of Greengrass at their beautiful house in the village of Spire, the Earl is found dead and Susie with her witty and inquisitive nature quickly starts her own investigation into the murder.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted cozy mystery. Susie Mahl is a great detective. She is funny and witty and I loved how Carter combined a little bit of a country house murder as well as giving us some insight into the life of an artist. This is a great read for fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple with a dash of Downton Abbey.

This is Ali Carter’s first novel and the first book in the new series about pet portraitist and super-sleuth Susie Mahl.

I would like to thank the author and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 


About The Author

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Ali Carter was born in Scotland in 1983. She read art history at St Andrew’s, followed by an eclectic career before settling in for the long run as a fine artist. She specializes in oil paintings from life with an emphasis on color. Writing, walking and cooking all accompany her painting. Ali lives in East Sussex with her husband Sam. Ali’s first novel, A Brush with Death comes out 7th June 2018.

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A Tiding of Magpies (A Birder Murder Mystery #5) by Steve Burrows

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When his most celebrated case is suddenly reopened, Detective Chief Inspector Jejeune‘s long-buried secrets threaten to come to light. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Lindy, faces an unseen threat of her own, one from which even Jejeune may not be able to protect her. Between fending off inquiries from the internal review and an open murder case that brings more questions than answers, Jejeune will have to rely on the help of the stalwart Sergeant Danny Maik more than ever. But Maik is learning things that cause him to question his DCI‘s actions, both past, and present. In the current case, and in the former one, the facts seem clear enough. But it is in the silences, those empty spaces between the facts, that the truth is to be found.

Review

This is book 5 in the Birder Murder Mysteries series. I must admit that I’m always fearful to read books in a series, especially when I haven’t read the previous books. Occasionally books can stand on their own and you don’t really need to have read the previous books.

Unfortunately, that was not the case with this novel. What first attracted me to this book was the fact that I’m also a bird watcher and I thought it would be cool to read a mystery that brought together both of my passions.

The book starts with Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune working together with Sergeant Danny Maik to resolve a murder of a young man in a Polish community in Canada. The positive aspects of this book are the fact that the mystery starts off strong and really picks up midway through the book. The extensive descriptions of birds, and I particularly enjoyed the explanation on Eurasian magpies.

Unfortunately, the fact that most of the important characters had been introduced in previous books really made understanding and even sympathizing with them extremely difficult to me. Jejeune seemed flat and unrealistic as a character, and I spent most of the book trying to understand the references to events from previous books. It is almost unfair to properly rate a book that I could have enjoyed better had I read at least one of the previous books. My advice is to read the other books in the series to get a better appreciation for this novel.

It is in the silent spaces between the facts that the truth often lies.”

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


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Curtain by Agatha Christie

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The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr. Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara, Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the aging detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?

Review

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and I just love Poirot. I’ve read most of his stories and I even watched the old BBC series with David Suchet. Somehow, Curtain was never a book I really gravitated towards. One day while perusing my favorite used bookstore, I came across the book and decided to give it a try.

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To say that this novel is bittersweet is an understatement. First, Poirot and Hastings find themselves back at Styles, the house from the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles where we were first introduced to the eccentric detective and to his friend Arthur Hastings. The other sad part is that we now find Poirot much older and in a wheelchair.

“Nothing is so sad, in my opinion, as the devastation wrought by age.
My poor friend. I have described him many times. Now to convey to you the difference. Crippled with arthritis, he propelled himself about in a wheelchair. His once plump frame had fallen in. He was a thin little man now.”

Despite Poirot’s crippled appearance, his “little gray cells” are working just fine and soon enough Poirot declares to Hastings that one of the guests at Styles has committed five murders and is about to commit one more.

I personally liked the book. I don’t think I would ever truly love any book that narrates Poirot’s last case. The end was sad, almost brought me to tears, but didn’t completely surprise me. This was also Christie’s last published book before she died. For fans of the genre, this novel will not disappoint you a bit. For Agatha Christie’s fans, this book is a must.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

Review

I absolutely loved this book. I have been reading Louise Penny for quite some time and one of the things that really impress me about her books is the richness of her characters. I love that all the characters have so many layers. This book reminded me a little of Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose. Probably because it’s set in a monastery. Unlike Eco’s long and drawn out novel, Penny’s novel is full of twists that keep you guessing until the end. Don’t let the theme of a monastery full of monks and Gregorian chants scare you away from this novel. This is a very well-plotted mystery! I highly recommend it.

 

Review: Strange Things Done by Elle Wild


As winter closes in and the roads snow over in Dawson City, Yukon, newly arrived journalist Jo Silver investigates the dubious suicide of a local politician and quickly discovers that not everything in the sleepy tourist town is what it seems. Before long, law enforcement begins treating the death as a possible murder and Jo is the prime suspect.

Review

Strange Things Done is Elle Wild’s debut album and what a great debut! The story starts in the in the small town of Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. I love the dark and tense atmosphere that builds up in her narrative. I liked the way Elle Wild developed her characters, but I have to admit that I never quite warmed up to Jo. The chilling small tall narrative reminded me a bit of some of Stephen King’s great classics such as Salem’s lot. For that same reason, at times the story was a little slow for my taste. Overall, I highly recommend this dark and chilly novel.

I would like to thank Dundurn and NetGalley for allowing me to read an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Review: The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he’s been appointed God’s executioner. In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter. The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood-and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race-not grace-provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.

Review

This is book number two of the Gwen Marcey’s series. Gwen is a forensic artist who’s recovering from a divorce and from cancer. When Gwen’s dog finds a skull of a murder victim, Gwen uses her forensic knowledge and sets out to solve the crime. I really enjoyed this story. The Bones Will Speak is an exciting, fast-paced thriller full of twists and surprises. I didn’t read book one in the series, but I thought this book stood on its own. The parts I really liked about this book was the emphasis on forensic science and the job of forensic artists. At times Gwen came across as a know-it-all sort of person who is part forensic artist part detective. Overall, I enjoyed Parks’ writing style and I think this book will really appeal to fans of CSI and other forensic shows. I recommend it.

I’d like to thank BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 


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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Review

Ok, so Dark Matter is one of those novels where the least you know about it the better. I would even say be careful with reading too many reviews because it is really easy to spoil the plot. The first chapters of this book are extremely captivating. This is a fast-paced thriller that will truly surprise you and you won’t see it coming. Suffice to say that this book was absolutely nothing like what I expected it to be. As for the genre of this book, there is a little bit of everything in this story. It’s part sci-fi, part romance, and part thriller. I thought it was a very innovative concept by Blake Crouch. Although this book didn’t get a 5-stars in my opinion, partly because by the time I really understood what was going on in the story the book lost part of its interest, I still highly recommend this book.

I’d like to thank First To Read for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Wolf Lake by John Verdon


Could a nightmare be used as a murder weapon? That’s the provocative question confronting Gurney in the thrilling new installment in this series of international bestsellers. The former NYPD star homicide detective is called upon to solve a baffling puzzle: Four people who live in different parts of the country and who seem to have little in common, report having had the same dream—a terrifying nightmare involving a bloody dagger with a carved wolf’s head on the handle. All four are subsequently found with their wrists cut — apparent suicides — and the weapon used in each case was a wolf’s head dagger. Police zero in quickly on Richard Hammond, a controversial psychologist who conducts hypnotherapy sessions at a spooky old Adirondack inn called Wolf Lake Lodge. It seems that each of the victims had gone there to meet with Hammond shortly before turning up dead. Troubled by odd holes in the official approach to the case, Gurney begins his own investigation — an action that puts him in the crosshairs of not only an icy murderer and the local police but the darkest corner of the federal government. As ruthless as the blizzard trapping him in the sinister eeriness of Wolf Lake, Gurney’s enemies set out to keep him from the truth at any cost — including an all-out assault on the sanity of his beloved wife Madeleine. With his emotional resources strained to the breaking point, Gurney must throw himself into a deadly battle of wits with the most frightening opponent he has ever faced.

Review

Wolf Lake is the latest installment in the Dave Gurney series. This is a novel with a great hook.  Imagine four strangers living in four different parts of the country who all apparently committed suicide after having the same nightmare. The one thing these four strangers share in common is that each of the victims prior to their death met with a controversial psychologist, Richard Hammond, at a thousand-dollar-a-night resort. Verdon really weaves a fantastic story even if at times it mixes elements of supernatural, paranoia and even terrorism. The plot has several twists and the ending did not disappoint. I wished I had read the previous books in the series in order to get better acquainted with Gurney and more familiar with his turbulent relationship with his wife. Overall, kudos to the mind of John Verdon for coming up with this intense and exciting psychological thriller.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

Review

One of the things that caught my attention about this book was its cover. And after reading the synopsis I was really interested in reading this book. I started reading this book unaware that this was a book in a series, but luckily for me, this small detail did not prevent me from fully enjoying and understanding the plot.

The story starts with Dr. Diana Jagger a surgeon on trial for the murder of her husband Peter.  Only months after their marriage, Peter is killed in a suspicious car crash. Although Peter’s body is never found, Dr. Jagger becomes the first suspect and Jack Parlabane is hired to investigate the case.

Black Widow was one of those books with a slow start that all of the sudden had an unexpected twist that completely set things back in motion. This book really blew me away and kept me awake until late hours of the night in expectation for what was coming next. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that this is book seven of the Jack Parlabane series. This story certainly stands alone and will certainly keep you guessing until the surprising finale. Great read!

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published November 1, 2016.


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