Review of Marrying a Stranger by Anna Jacobs – 4 Stars

Marrying a StrangerMarrying a Stranger by Anna Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, the plot of this book is what drew me in, it is really intriguing. Megan was orphaned as a child and went to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin. Despite adoring her new family as an adult she decides to return to the area of her childhood. During her journeys, she accidentally ends up rescuing Ben from being pick-pocketed. In return, they end up spending a few days together and the attraction between them grows. When Ben unveils he has to move away to Australia she is heartbroken, but then he surprises her by asking her to marry him so that she can go with him. Megan agrees but the rocky road of marriage is long and complicated. What will her family think? What are Ben’s family like? How will she feel being provided for when she has always worked and paid her own way? All these questions and more provide Megan with plenty of turmoil, throw in Ben’s overbearing ex that is desperate to win him back and you just don’t quite know which way the story will go? Can the newlyweds really make their marriage work?

The writing style is a little old fashioned and the story a little slow at times. But, in saying this, there is nothing wrong with a bit of good wholesome romance now and again. The settings were quite quirky in this novel, however the author never let Megan stay anywhere for the reader to become too familiar with the setting (I’m not sure if this was deliberate or not to show Megan’s discomfort at being constantly moved) but it did mean that the reader has to read quite a lot of descriptions from quite a few places. The first hotel and then the house towards the end of the novel were both brilliant locations, particularly the house.

I think Megan is an interesting character, it feels a bit like she’s going through a mid-life crisis. She feels she has a boring job and is yearning for something more. The solution = marry a stranger and move to the other side of the world. Yet somehow as a reader, you do root for her. Ben is a lot more complicated character. He’s very distant and I think as a reader it takes a while to warm to him (and to understand why Megan is so enamoured) – think of a boring Mr Grey. Although the good thing about that is it means he develops later in the novel and you do end up liking him, I just felt as a reader it takes a little longer for you to start to like him. Apart from that, the other characters are pretty good especially Ben’s ex as soon as she appears you mistrust her, dislike her and are ready for her to get her comeuppance – haha!

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Very light, easy summer reading. This is the first Anna Jacobs book I have read and I have already ordered another from this author! For those that enjoy this type of novel, I would recommend Diary of a Whitby Girl by Jessica Stirling. It is historical fiction but a really enjoyable slower paced romance.

Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Review of Uneasy Spirits by Louisa M Locke – 4 Stars

Uneasy Spirits (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #2)Uneasy Spirits by M. Louisa Locke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled across this book by chance when it showed up rather cheaply on a Kindle titles sale and the outline sounded quirky and I must say I am very pleased with the find. I didn’t realise it is actually the second in the series and I’m quite glad as I think that would have put me off but actually, it was very easy to read without having read the first. You could quickly pick up who the characters are and each of their rough backgrounds, but you are also not swamped with information about them learning more as the book goes on.

This Victorian thriller is set in San Francisco, in the world of Annie Fuller (who doubles as clairvoyant Madam Sibyl). Annie actually doesn’t believe in any of the astrology or palmistry but as an intellectual woman, she uses it as a front to help give her clients business advice. When she is asked to investigate some mediums (the Framptons) who claim to be talking to deceased relatives of their clients Annie and her kitchen maid Kathleen soon step into a very dangerous world.

Discovering the truth about the Framptons may just expose Annie’s own secret that she is not really clairvoyant, can she take that risk to help her friend. The line between helping and deceiving suddenly becomes very blurred for Annie and she’s not too sure where she stands on it.

There is also an underlying love story between Annie and Nate, an up and coming lawyer who is desperate to break out of the shadows of his Uncle’s law firm. Their story is very sweet and Nate is a great character, but perhaps a little overshadowed in this story by Annie and Kathleen. I suspect he will be much more interesting in the other books as their storyline develops.

The historical descriptions are great in this book, and as some other reviewers have mentioned it’s actually set during Halloween so some of the details are really interesting.

This book can certainly be read as a standalone, but as more is revealed about the characters and their relationships develop as the series progresses, it might be best to start from the first book in the series, Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery (which I am hoping to do). I certainly will return to read more books by this author in future.

Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Review of The Bell Tower By Sarah Rayne (Nell West #6) – 4 Stars

The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery (Nell West/Michael Flint, #6)The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel continues as entry #6 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “Deadlight Hall”. In this story, Nell returns as the primary character with Michael returning to the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to switch back and forth making two strong protagonists, that’s strengths differ and keep the series fresh and alive. Returning to Nell’s perspective as a primary character gave this story a new refreshing take and also allowed Nell as a character to really develop more. It was also interesting that Nell’s daughter Beth featured a bit more in this story and is a little more grown up in this book. Great use of character progression.

In this story, Nell has bought the shop next door and is working on and extension. When some old plaster is removed Nell finds a hidden message on the wall referring to someone called Thaisa. This leads Neil on a chain of discovery where she uncovers a link with a village in Dorset (where her daughter is holidaying this summer), a mysterious piece of music called Thaisia’s song and a derelict bell tower with a silenced bell. The story is told from a variety of historical sources and also from the view of an old woman living the life of a recluse. She is desperate to protect her family’s secrets at all costs.

As with all Sarah Rayne books, her plotting is brilliant, she lays many, many, threads for the reader to follow and then brilliantly weaves them all together. It did take me a little longer than normal to get into this book. I think there was a little less mystery than others in this series and this was quite a dark storyline. I do like that Rayne still experiments in her writing and tries out many characters’ viewpoints.
I think Rayne has done a great job of developing Michael and Nell’s personal relationship too. For returning readers it is handled very well and the progression can be seen, but it’s also not distracting and confusing for first-time readers. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. The books are well written and well plotted and the historical details are always interesting.
Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Review of With Deadly Intent by K.A. Richardson – 4 Stars

I was very lucky to discover this author at a local writers talk at

KA Richardson - Book Signing

Image of K.A. Richardson with her debut novel and novella.

my library. Her passionate for her story-telling came across immediately. Not to mention the fact that she has actually worked in the local crime units described in the book, so her credentials for crime drama are superb. I knew immediately that I had to read her novels and I was not disappointed.

 

This story follows three characters:

  • Cass a crime scene manager for the North East police force, who along with some awful murders has her own personal traumas to deal with. Shutting herself off from the world and creating her own isolation comes with some very big risks.
  • Alex, DCI on the murder investigation. Alex grows increasingly frustrated with the case and lack of sufficient evidence linking the victims. Alex also finds a conflict of emotions when he discovers he has feelings for the slightly odd, very private Cass.
  • The Killer. The author allows brief looks into the killer’s world and his patient observational hunt, prior to the murders.

I enjoyed the authors writing style in this novel, especially the dialogue it is very well written and doesn’t rely on heavy accents as some stories do to represent regional areas.

My only slight (and it is slight) complaint was the introduction of Alex’s brother, it felt unnecessary to introduce the character at a late stage, it was maybe to get out of the tricky situation or to introduce him for any future novels but for me it didn’t quite sit right for some reason. That being said it didn’t detract too much from the rest of the story which is very fluid and very enjoyable.

Readers of any crime novel will really enjoy these books. The use of a crime scene manager gives this novel a really unique perspective, which makes it stand out in the genre. The closest in author style that I have read is Karin Slaughters Grant County series (medical examiner with a police officer) but it’s quite nice to come across something different written like that (with a slant on the police team).4 stars

Summary – A very enjoyable read, and a fresh take in the crime genre. I am looking forward to reading more from this exciting new author.

Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

Book Review of The Ritual by Adam Nevill – 4 Stars

The RitualThe Ritual by Adam Nevill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An atmospheric book about four old university friends who begrudgingly take a trip together to go hiking and camping in the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle. The story is told from the viewpoint of Luke, who is looking forward to a trip with his old friend Hutch. Frustratingly Hutch invites two additional friends from the group Phil and Dom onto the trip. Immediately tensions have risen as Luke begins to analyse the friendships and the differences in each of their lives soon coming to the realisation they have little left in common. Eager to get the trip over and with the poor fitness level of Phil and Dom hindering progress, the group soon decide a shortcut is the best solution. Quickly the men are lost, isolated and terrified as the forest begins to unveil its strange secrets to the group.
This novel is very intriguing from the first page, and the old folklore of the forests is quite addictive. Nevill really ramps up the tension throughout and the forest atmosphere and “abandoned” building as a backdrop really help add to this. I did enjoy some of the challenges the group came across more than others but I did enjoy the overall story that was woven together. I think this book has such vivid story-telling it really could be a movie or even a TV series (although a heads up there is an odd gory scene but I do think it adds to the story unlike some other horrors).
Characterisation for me was the foundation of this novel. From the off the main character is a bit selfish, a bit irritating and quite ‘unfriendly’ despite being on holiday with friends. Yet you still feel sympathy for him, and his frustrations and of course his fear. You also sympathise for Hutch, playing peacekeeper of the group. You want the group to get out of the forest safe, yet you also want to find out what is after them.
A really great read that is certainly full of intrigue, horror and the unexpected. As other reviewers have said the first half of the book is so much stronger and scarier than the second, but I wouldn’t let this put you off as the second half of the story is still very good, it’s just that the first half is superb.
Very creepy book, along the lines of something James Herbert would write for those that enjoy his work.
Please like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Review of Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella – 4 Stars

Can You Keep a Secret?Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the summary describes, Emma is a nervous flyer, when she gets on a very turbulent flight, she anxiously spills all her secrets to the passenger next to her. With relief she gets off the plane and tries to forget it ever happened, only to find out that the man she divulged her deepest darkest secrets to… is the boss of the company she works for. However, far from being put off by Emma’s outbursts he seems to take delight in being in her company and if he can make a little statement that Emma knows is directed at one of her little black lies, even more joyful for him. Can Emma recover from the embarrassment and compose herself to work alongside him? Only time will tell.
This book follows Sophie Kinsella’s quirky playful writing style and what the story lacks in storyline, it does make up for in sarcasm, and that strange delight in watching it go wrong for our heroine. In classic rom-com Bridget-jones-style-humour, you really do wonder if she can get any more embarrassed. Yet that is also the book’s main attraction, our heroine gets up, dusts herself off (or I should say powers through the blushing statement) and just waits until the next embarrassment takes hold.
I wasn’t overly fond of Emma as a character, she does tend to strike you as a bit of a bimbo rather than someone who just happens to be that unlucky. Still, that makes it easier when stuff doesn’t quite go her way. By the end of the book though you are willing her to get her happily ever after.
My overall opinion is this isn’t as good as the shopaholic series, those storylines are better and the characters in it are a little more fun. However this really isn’t a bad book, I did enjoy it, a very light, fun and easy read.
Please leave a helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd – 4 stars

Savage MagicSavage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a historical fiction novel set in Georgian-era Britain. Savage Magic is told from several viewpoints but mainly that of Constable Charles Horton. The book gripped me early on with a brutal and bizarre multiple murder investigation in an aristocratic area of London. Several of London’s elite are found together dead with bizarre masks covering the face, only the room is locked from the inside with no way for an intruder to escape. With plenty of questions but few clues and answers the police are left stumped.

We follow Constable Charles Horton who has travelled to a small village that is surrounded by fear and folklore. Charles has the difficult job of unravelling the truth from the tall tales told at Thorpe Lee House and are the events connected to the brutal killings of aristocracy in London?

Savage magic also follows the story of Abigail (Horton’s wife) who has checked herself into a Hackney Madhouse with the hope of stopping the lady in her head. Instead of escaping the torture Abigail finds herself in the cell next to a woman that seemingly can control the minds of those around her.

In a tale of sweeping madness, can Charles and Abigail believe what is really happening before them and connect the pieces together in this large magical historical puzzle?
Shepherd’s characters really help drive this puzzling story forward. He weaves a lot of themes into this story including madness, murder, remote villages, prostitution, and witchcraft, using his skills to keep the reader guessing.

This is such an unusual novel, I have noticed that it is actually the third from Shepherd with the others featuring some of the same characters but I read it purely as a standalone and it didn’t detract from the story or need background filling in.

I would recommend this book for readers of Phil Rickman or similar. Historical fiction with a hint of other (very big hint in this case). I would also recommend if readers enjoy this type of novel to check out The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmicker, a great book in this genre.

Summary
The Good – Great plot, unusual story and characters with a great mix of settings too.
The Bad – A little slow in places as other reviewers have said, but overall worth continuing.

View all my reviews

For a quick look at my review for The Witch of Napoli – visit here.