Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: The Hidden Man by Robin Blake

Description (from cover):

'The year is 1742, and the people of Preston are looking forward to their ancient once-every-twenty-years festival of merriment and excess, the Preston Guild. But the prospect darkens as the town plunges into a financial crisis caused by the death of pawnbroker and would-be banker Phillip Pimbo, shot behind the locked door of his office. Is it suicide? Coroner Titus Cragg suspects so, but Dr. Luke Fidelis disagrees. To untangle the truth Cragg must dig out the secrets of Pimbo's personal life, learn the grim facts of the African slave trade, search for a missing Civil War treasure and deal with the machinations of his old enemy Ephraim Grimshaw, now the town's mayor. Cragg relies once again on the help and advice of his analytical friend Fidelis, his astute wife Elizabeth and the contents of a well-stocked library.

As in his previous Cragg and Fidelis stories, Robin Blake brings a vivid cast of characters to the page in this third historical mystery about the dramas that breeds below the surface of life in a provincial Georgian town.'

My thoughts:

The third book in the Cragg and Fidelis mystery is just as good as the other two in the series before it. I love Robin Blake's writing style and his characters. His main character Titus Cragg and his friend Dr. Luke Fidelis are a treat to read about. They are educated and smart and determined to figure out the murder mystery in front of them. When pawnbroker Phillip Pimbo is found dead in his office, Titus is happy to write it off as a suicide, but Fidelis is determined to see the bigger picture and declares that it was a murder instead. Based on his friend's strong convictions, Cragg joins in the murder investigation as well as his duties as coroner. 

The pair uncover a lot of clues involving the slave trade, financial irregularities and an old treasure during the course of the investigation. All of these instances seem to be separate from the main investigation of the murder, but the pieces slowly fall into place. It seems there was a lot more to Phillip Pimbo than what met the eyes of the townspeople. The way that Blake weaves his story left me wanting more and hard-pressed to put this book down. 

I thought that this book was a great read and I am currently reading the fourth and latest installment in this series, Skin and Bone, as I am not quite ready to let this series go. I always look forward to reading about Cragg and Fidelis' adventures and simply cannot get enough. The author does a fantastic job of creating a historical element in his books that make this historical mystery lover swoon.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  The Hidden Man
Author:  Robin Blake
Series:  Cragg and Fidelis Mystery #3
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  March 3, 2015
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Netlix Effect...

I came across the post that I did earlier in the year about changing the vision of this blog. After taking somewhat a break from it, I find that I am starting to find that passion again, but in a different way. I feel that I want to write more about books, reading habits and the culture of books and authors more than reviewing books all the time.
I come across ideas all the time, I just have a hard time of actually following through and writing about them. The latest one was how ironically my reading habits mimic my Netflix habit. I find myself getting drawn more and more to voluminous book series to kind of "binge" on a series for a while. I tend to find a series and hunker down for a few weeks and read them in order until the very last one and I do the exact same thing with Netflix. I binge one show at a time and apparently that holds true for my books as well. It seriously blew my mind for a little bit. 

Another one: Am I the only bookaholic who hates the smell of books? I think I might just be. I recently saw a Facebook post or something advertising candles for book lovers. I love candles and books. You think I would like candles that smell like books. Nope. And used books and old books, I would love to read you, but you smell so bad. I see book lovers all the time talking about how they love the smell of a musty old book and I really don't understand. My allergies will not let me.

I have been reading a book lately The Hidden Man by Robin Blake. I love Blake's writing and I have already decided that I will be writing a review on it. Make sure you stop by later this week for my take on this book.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Description (from cover):

'USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down...

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She'll have help from friends new and old--a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society's expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.'

My Thoughts:

I simply adore Sherlock Holmes. I have long been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved detective and I enjoy reading stories that continue the famed detective's legacy. I think that Sherry Thomas did a wonderful job of creating an alternate universe where Sherlock Holmes is female. I liked that the author stayed true to Sherlock Holmes' character but added her own twist on the legendary character. I found this novel to be quite clever and a very entertaining read.

Charlotte Holmes is not your normal upper class lady. She doesn't care about society, she doesn't care what others think of her and she is determined to not to let society dictate her life. She does the unthinkable in an effort to escape the tight bounds of society and she sets out using her brilliant mind to solve a trio of mysterious murders that have recently plagued London. She has some friends of hers to help guide her along her way and she makes some new friends along the way as well. I loved Charlotte's spunk, her quirks that make "Sherlock" Holmes famous and the way that the author plants in the reader's mind that question: What if Sherlock Holmes was female?

This book was a good read. I enjoyed it and found it to be entertaining. I think the author used particular items from the Sherlock Holmes we all know, but that she put her own spin on the character that at the same time made it unique. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and love a good, well-planned mystery, this is a book worth your time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be back for more.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  A Study in Scarlet Women
Author:  Sherry Thomas
Series:  Lady Sherlock #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  October 18, 2016
Pages:  336
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Description (from cover):

'From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds"--the fastest liner then in service--and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.'

My thoughts:

Very rarely do I delve into the realm of nonfiction, however, when it comes to Erik Larson, I am always ready to read one of his books. Larson has a way with weaving a story and using the people who dance across his pages to tell history's greatest tales. The author uses their stories to tell the story of whatever subject he is writing about. In this case, the topic was the sinking of the Lusitania. I had learned about the Lusitania in school, but it was very brief overview of the situation and how important this disaster was to bringing America into WWI. 

After reading this book, my view of the situation as I learned it in school has changed. The sinking of the Lusitania  was two years before America decided to engage itself in the conflict. The Lusitania disaster certainly was a triggering event, but not the only factor that drew America into the first World War. I found it interesting that the common misconception was that it was because this happened that America joined the Allied forces in the war that shaped modern warfare. In fact, I had even believed the same. It is an accurate description in the blurb of this book that "It is a story that many of us think we know but don't..."

Nonfiction is a genre that sometimes seems foreign to me as I read a lot of fiction books. However, Erik Larson is one of my favorite nonfiction writers hands down. I always engage in the story and learn so much when I read one of his books. The man could probably write about dirt and I would enjoy it. Another phenomenal read by a nonfiction genius.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Author:  Erik Larson
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Crown Publishers
Publication Date:  March 10, 2015
Pages:  430
Genre:  Nonfiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Review: Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

Description (from cover):

'The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corps the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria, Inspector of the Dead brilliantly merges historical fact with fiction, bringing a bloody chapter of Victorian England to vivid, pulse-pounding life.'

My thoughts:

Thomas De Quincey has returned in this thrilling and fast-paced Victorian historical thriller! I absolutely love this author and his writing style. This book was a great sequel to Murder As a Fine Art, which I have read and loved. This author has tried to remain as true to historical fact as possible and it is amazing to read at the end how much actually happened versus what was invented by the author. I remember how ecstatic I was to learn that this author was planning a trilogy featuring these characters and now I am sad because there is only one book left to read if rumor holds true. 

Thomas De Quincey has outlasted his stay in London and Lord Palmerson cannot wait to see the opium addict and his daughter, Emily, out of his house. However, before this can happen, Thomas De Quincey's detective skills are needed a little bit longer. Someone has murdered a whole house full of people and leaves clues behind suggesting that someone might be planning an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria. The murders continue and the killer gets braver. De Quincey and company race against the clock to make sure that the Queen remains safe, while at the same time trying to solve these grisly murders. 

This book was simply one that I could not put down. I was immediately drawn into the fast pace of the novel and the author's writing style and characters keep me intrigued. I simply cannot say enough things about this book other than you should read it soon!

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Inspector of the Dead
Author:  David Morrell
Series:  Thomas De Quincey Mystery #2
Publisher:  Mulholland Books
Publication Date:  March 24, 2015
Pages:  342
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Description (from cover):

'Hailed as "a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes" by The Boston Globe, Flavia de Luce returns in a much anticipated new Christmas mystery from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia's blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty--and not empty enough.

Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar's wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man's body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene.

Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one's spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.'

My thoughts:

The Flavia de Luce series has been one that I have loved and followed over many years. I always anticipate the newest release and cannot wait to read it when it is released. Flavia is a character that the reader can relate to. Alan Bradley has a way with words and wit that make reading these books a pleasure. I simply cannot say enough good things about this series and author, you must simply read the books for yourself. I typically do not read young adult books, but this series is one that I return to over and over again. This series is like no other. The author is creative in his writing and the characters are such that they endear themselves on your heart. 

Flavia has returned from her schooling in Canada. As she disembarks from the ship, she is greeted by Dogger and learns that her father is ill and in the hospital. Flavia wants to go visit him right away, but is told that she cannot. She distracts herself with her normal chemistry pursuits and when the vicar's wife asks her to run an errand, she jumps at the chance. When she arrives at the house to deliver a message, she stumbles across a murdered man hanging upside down on the back of the bedroom door. She investigates the scene in her typical "Flavia" way and then leaves letting the police determine their own investigation. Of course, Flavia is about ten steps ahead of the police and she sets out to discover who the victim was and why someone wanted him dead.

This book was a treat to read. It was refreshing and engaging. I won't say too much about this book, but I was shocked by the ending and I mean utterly shocked. This book ends with a cliffhanger and I simply cannot wait to read the next one.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
Author:  Alan Bradley
Series:  Flavia de Luce Mystery #8
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Publication Date:  September 20, 2016
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

Description (from cover):

'On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train's arrival in the English village of Bishop's Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message in her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysterious pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia?

Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces' crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself.

Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office--and making spectacular use of Harriet's beloved Gipsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit--Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.'

My thoughts:

I love this series. I love Flavia. I love her quirkiness and her intelligence. This series is one of my favorites of all times. I love Alan Bradley's writing style and I love how this series is so different from the rest of the cozy mystery series. Flavia is eleven years old and she is smarter than most people. She has a serious knack for chemistry that makes my eyes cross. Bradley has a certain intellectual writing style that makes you feel smarter by just reading one of his books. This book is the one that lovers of this series has been dreading. Harriet has been found and is being brought home in a casket. This story walks the readers through a grieving process and you can't help but feel for the characters. This book is really a stepping stone for the next installments of the series and sets the future path for the characters. 

This book was a little slow going for me. If you love the mystery part of the series, well you won't find it in this book. There is a little mystery, but nothing like the others in this series. This is more of a character and story development installment. I have to say that I did struggle with this one more than the others. I felt like it really didn't have the same "flair" that the others had in the series previously. I was a little disappointed, but I do understand what the author was trying to do here so I cannot be too disappointed. The ending of this book was a little shocking, but it was a good cliff hanger and I cannot wait to read it. In fact, I am glad that I do not have to wait and I will be starting the next book right away.

Overall, this book is not the usual for the series or for the author, but if you truly love this series, you will stick with it because it clears up the past and opens so many doors for the future. Flavia is certainly in for some new adventures and I am anxious to get started.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Author:  Alan Bradley
Series:  Flavia de Luce Mystery #6
Publisher:  Bantam
Publication Date:  December 30, 2014
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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