722 Followers
178 Following
maddan3

It's a Mad Mad World

Currently reading

Manderley Forever
Tatiana de Rosnay
Follow Free counters!
France Book Tours
 photo badge_proreader.png  photo badge_top_reviewer.png Challenge Participant 80%

Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry

Abigale Hall: A Novel - Lauren A. Forry

Amid the terror of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca have had their share of tragedy, having lost their mother to the Blitz and their father to suicide. Forced to leave London to work for the mysterious Mr. Brownwell at Abigale Hall, they soon learn that the worst is yet to come. The vicious housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, seems hell-bent on keeping the ghostly secrets of the house away from the sisters and forbids them from entering the surrounding town—and from the rumors that circulate about Abigale Hall. When Eliza uncovers some blood-splattered books, ominous photographs, and portraits of a mysterious woman, she begins to unravel the mysteries of the house, but with Rebecca falling under Mrs. Pollard’s spell, she must act quickly to save her sister, and herself, from certain doom.

Perfect for readers who hunger for the strange, Abigale Hall is an atmospheric debut novel where the threat of death looms just beyond the edge of every page. Lauren A. Forry has created a historical ghost story where the setting is as alive as the characters who inhabit it and a resonant family drama of trust, loyalty, and salvation.

 
***********
 

Abigale Hall is a book that didn't sell itself to me directly, it took a while for me to get into the story. But, at the same time was I curious enough to know more, to find out answers. Why did the aunt send Eliza and Rebecca to that weird house, and what's going on there? What's wrong with the housekeeper Mrs. Pollard. Is the house haunted or is it just Eliza imagining that? And, to be frank, what is going on with Rebecca? Lots of questions, and as the story progressed the more hooked I become until I finally had to admit that I was quite taken with the book.

Now, I have to admit that haunted houses are "my thing". Just give me a tragic or horrifying backstory or both and some poor family moving into the house and I'm sold. Abigale Hall has an interesting backstory and I wanted to know, is there a ghost or not? But, I must say that the ending really surprised me and pushed the stable 3-star rating to a 4-star rating. It's a jaw-dropping kind of ending, in many ways.

Abigale Hall may have taken some time for me to really get into, but it turned out to be one of those books that I'm glad I kept on reading. The story turned out to be really interesting and I was intrigued by Abigale Hall and really wanted to know what was going on there. And, most of all, I like that the conclusion really surprised me several times. It's not a horror story per se, more a mystery story with a bit of an ominous feeling to it.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review! 

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

 
**********
 
A Perilous Undertaking is a sequel to A Curious Beginning, but this book can read as a stand-alone. Though I do think it could be practical to read the first book to really get to know the characters since Veronica Speedwell, well she has an interesting family situation.
 
In this book, we get a deeper insight into both Veronica and Stoker's families. And, we finally learn why Stoker doesn't want to have anything to do with his family. Veronica meets a relative. However, she knows that the one person she really wants to see can she never met. I do hope that one day they will be able to meet, to be honest.
 
The case was interesting, however, the conclusion felt a bit like a letdown. I guess I just wanted a more shocking conclusion to the case. This felt like a very "proper" case ending. If the ending had been a bit more intriguing and intense would I perhaps have enjoyed it better. However, I did enjoy the progress of the book, the investigation into who murdered Artemisia. Veronica and Stoker are a great team and it will be interesting to see how this "relationship" will progress.
 
There are so many funny scenes in this book that left me smiling. Veronica may now and then seem a bit too modern for the setting, but I can't help but to adore her. She is refreshingly frank. And of course, Stoker as well, especially when he gets embarrassed.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

Crash and Burn (Sigma Force #11.5) by James Rollins

Crash and Burn: A Sigma Force Short Story (Sigma Force series) (SIGMA Force Novels (Audio)) - James Rollins

New York Times bestselling author James Rollins comes a shocking short story, where a chance mishap leads to the discovery of a weapon like no other in . . . Crash and Burn.

On a transatlantic flight, the two black sheep of Sigma Force--Seichan and Kowalski--must set aside their mutual dislike as a mysterious fiery force knocks their aircraft out of the sky. This unlikely duo must use every skill, weapon, and bit of ingenuity to survive a night on a remote volcanic island, where their only refuge is the haunted, bat-plagued grounds of a seemingly deserted resort. But something horrific awaits the two, something born of the latest science but rooted in our basest human instincts. To survive they will need to learn to work together--but even then, it may be too late.

 

*********


Right, I'm just going to do a short review of this novella since there is just not much to say about it. I thought I read it since I just got the latest James Rollins book (woohoo!) and I thought this story may be important to the book (or in some way connected). I do like that it featured two of my favorite characters, but to be honest it was way too short to be more than I appetizer. And, not even an intriguing appetizer. I felt that because the shortness of the story did nothing really happened, or rather everything had to happen in a matter of a few pages and then the end. I could see how this could be a prolog but as a short story? Nah, it didn't work for me.

Cover Crush: In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Flashlight Commentary came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!

For me, a good cover is a cover that makes me pause while browsing through books. Something that catches my eye. Like this one: 
 
In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II
Rhys Bowen
Lake Union Publishing (Amazon Publishing)
On Sale Date: March 1, 2017
ISBN 9781477818299, 1477818294
Hardcover | 396 pages
Fiction / Contemporary Women

World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?

Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

 
Some thoughts about the cover: 
 

The cover for In Farleigh Field is quite striking with Farleigh Place dominating the cover. I quite like the simplicity of the cover and I love that the font isn't too flashy. The colors are dark and that suits the tone of the description of the book and over the mansion can you see airplane which also suits the era very well.

 
Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:
 
 
 
 

The Dead Seekers by Barb Hendee & J.C. Hendee

The Dead Seekers (A Dead Seekers Novel) - J.C. Hendee, Barb Hendee

In the New York Times bestselling Noble Dead saga, Barb and J.C. Hendee created an engrossing mix of intrigue, epic fantasy, and horror. Now, they present a bold new series set in the same world, where the destinies of two hunters shaped by the shadows of their pasts are about to collide... 


In the dark reaches of the eastern continent, Tris Vishal travels from village to village, using his power to put unsettled spirits to rest. He works alone, having learned that letting people close only leads to more death. Still, he finds himself accepting the help of the Mondyalitko woman who saves his life a woman whose gifts are as much a burden as his own. 


Mari Kaleja thirsted for vengeance since the night her family was taken from her. She has searched far and wide for the one she thinks responsible, known only as The Dead's Man. But before she can kill him, she has to be sure. Mari hopes traveling with Tris will confirm her suspicions. But as they embark on a hunt where the living are just as dangerous as the dead, she learns the risks of keeping your enemy close... 

Because it's no longer clear who is predator and who is prey."
 
**********
 
The Dead Seekers is the first book in a new series and that is something that I'm bloody happy about since I really loved this book! And, now I will try to write a review about a book I love which I hate to do since I just want to say read it, it's brilliant. But, I will try to be a bit versatile than that.
 
The book starts off with Tris Vishal being born. But, he never breaths and the midwife has to tell his poor parents that the baby is stillborn. Then, the midwife notices that he starts to breathe when she carries him away, but there is something strange about him that will mark him as different from others. He has the ability to send spirits back to where they come from. But, he also risks the lives of everyone who is close to him. Mari Kaleja learns this the hard way as a child when her whole family is slaughtered by spirits. Now she first for revenge, and it's The Dead Man she is after. But, when she finally finds Tris must she be certain that he is the right one. But, traveling with him may not be the best idea. She watches him, and he is not as she had expected. Could this really be the man she has been chasing all these years?
 
I found myself really enjoying this book, both the setting and the characters. Trish whose gifts are a burden for him and Mari who has spent years looking for revenge. I'm usually not much for romance in books, but one can't really say it's any romance in this book since it's more two lonely people getting to know each other (with a hint of romance). And, that's probably one of the reasons I love the book so much. There is no lusting or instalove. 
 
As for the story itself. I loved getting to know more about Tris power, and Mari's own secret is interesting and very handy. It was also great reading about how their relationship developed from an uneasy alliance to more of a worry about each other, although Mari still wanted to kill him. But, she is a bit conflicted. The last part of the story is the best when they have to figure out who is killing soldiers. Is it a spirit or a revengeful man/woman?
 
I loved the ending of the book. It's the kind that put a smile on my face and I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street) - Karen White

New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...

 

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....

 
**********

The Guests on South Battery is the first book I have read by Karen White. Since I love paranormal stories and the American South did this book seem very promising. I also was curious to read something by Karen White, to see if her books were my cup of tea. And, I can say after this book that it worked on some levels, but it also had for me some flaws that I had problems with.

Let's start with the good things about the book. I loved the setting and the idea of the story. Old houses, ghosts, a mystery ready to be solved and family rivalry. That was great. Many of the supporting characters were quite nice, I especially liked Sophie. I think that's because we share a love for old houses. And, Melanie's mother Ginny is pretty cool. And, at first, Melanie was not so bad herself. However, and here come some things that bothered me, and it all started with Melanie. I love quirky characters, but Melanie's OCD was more annoying than quirky. I have battled my own OCD (Still do in some way) and I feel that I perhaps should have some sympathies. But, it was, to be honest mostly annoying to read about her control issues. I think she has a lot of issues she should deal with to let go of her anxiety. As my fellow buddy reader wrote about her when she discussed the boo: "she's a bit uptight". Spot on that was my thought as well while reading the book.

However, I did in some way enjoy the book, but the plot was extremely predictable. Not surprised me since I had already predicted what would happen. Or perhaps I'm just psychic? I did like the cliffhanger ending, and I have the first book in the series so I will definitely read more by the author, despite my problems with the book. However, I do hope the next book I will read will be more to my liking.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world's densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, The Lost City of the Monkey God is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.

 
**********
 
As a longtime fan of the Pendergast series that Douglas Preston writes together with Lincoln Child was I curious to read this non-fiction book about a lost city. Personally, I find mysteries likes this very intriguing. I mean a lost city that is mentioned in old documents, but no one has found? What's not to like? And, what makes this book so fantastic is that Douglas Preston himself was part of the expedition to what could be White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. A place where no one has been for centuries, a place with a lot of deadly creatures like the deadly fer-de-lance, one of the most deadly snakes on the planet.
 
The Lost City of the Monkey God captivated me from the beginning, Preston has written a well-researched book, which gives the reader both the historical background as well as the impressions from the expedition. I always love books that are entertaining and learning as well, and Preston has managed that. The only thing I found a bit dreary was the technical descriptions of the equipment that they used to pinpoint the city, but I got the gist and that was enough for me. I'm just not that interested in technical things so stuff like that always makes me a bit bored. But, I fully understand the need for it to be included in the story. Especially since it pissed of archaeologists who thinks that it's cheating to use lidar to find lost cities. I loved that part of the story, how petty some archaeologists were. 
 
As much as I enjoyed reading the historical background must I admit that reading about the expedition, how they were the first ones there were very thrilling. I could easily picture the scenery and I found the discovery of the city and artifacts fascinating. Although I'm not sure I would want to travel there with all the bugs and deadly snakes.
 
The Lost City of the Monkey God was a truly great book. I loved learning more about the history of Honduras and it made me sad to think how the Europeans arrival pretty much killed off most of the natives all over America thanks to the sickness they brought with them.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DOUGLAS PRESTON worked as a writer and editor for the American Museum of Natural History and taught writing at Princeton University. He has written for The New Yorker, Natural History, National Geographic, Harper's, Smithsonian, and The Atlantic. The author of several acclaimed nonfiction books--including the bestseller The Monster of Florence--Preston is also the co-author with Lincoln Child of the bestselling series of novels featuring FBI agent Pendergast.

WEBSITE: http://www.prestonchild.com

FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/PrestonandChild
 

EARLY PRAISE

"A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary-trademark Preston, in other words, and another winner.” —Kirkus, starred review

"Replete with informative archaeology lessons and colorful anecdotes about the challenges Elkins' crew faced during the expedition, including torrential rains and encounters with deadly snakes, Preston's uncommon travelogue is as captivating as any of his more fanciful fictional thrillers.” —Booklist

"For anyone who dreams of lost times and places--and who doesn't?--this is the book. Revelatory, chilling, creepy, and alive with deadly snakes and insects bearing incurable disease, it's high adventure at its best, and all true.” — Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and The Devil in the White City

"What reader could resist a new book by Douglas Preston called THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD? Not this reader. Preston's book offers rewards for both the mystery fan and the nonfiction aficionado. THE LOST CITY is addictive-fast-paced and riveting, but it's also important. We mustn't repeat the cataclysmic mistakes of the past. Ironically-as THE LOST CITY illustrates-that's exactly what our short-sighted civilization is doing right now.” —James Patterson

"If you're going to explore a lost city-in this case one that vultures, poisonous snakes, sand flies, and mudholes have protected for 500 years-you really only want to do it with Douglas Preston. A tale of bravado, chicanery, and impossible dreams, arresting at every turn, no less so in its unexpected, pulse-racing coda.” —David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z

"Douglas Preston is one of the most adventurous figures in American letters today. Inured to personal danger, braving venomous snakes and lethal pathogens, he somehow gets it all--the science, the history, the intrigues, the obsessive characters, the electric moment of discovery, and the haunted cries of a once-powerful civilization. Preston's marvelous story is made all the more potent by the astonishing fact that, from beginning to end, it happens to be true.” —Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice

"A great true adventure, filled with danger, close calls, better-than-Hollywood characters, and a lost world that reaches through time and into everyone's future. One of the best nonfiction books I've read.” — Robert Kurson, New York Timesbestselling author of Shadow Divers and Pirate Hunters

"The Lost City of the Monkey God is a throwback to the golden age of adventure archaeology, the thrilling true story of a group of explorers penetrating one of the toughest jungles on earth in search of a lost city...and finding it. Preston is a terrific writer of both non-fiction books and bestselling novels, and makes you feel the dark heart of this lost Honduran wilderness.” —John Sandford, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Prey series of novels

Thin Air by Michelle Paver

Thin Air - Michelle Paver

In 1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain and one of mountaineering's biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time - the 1907 Lyell Expedition.

Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and 'mountain sickness' at such high altitudes. Lyell became a classic British hero when he published his memoir, Bloody, But Unbowed, which regaled his heroism in the face of extreme odds. It is this book that will guide this new group to get to the very top.

As the team prepare for the epic climb, Pearce's unease about the expedition deepens. The only other survivor of the 1907 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off. He hints of dark things ahead and tells Pearce that, while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest.

But Pearce is determined to go ahead and complete something that he has dreamed of his entire life. As they get higher and higher, and the oxygen levels drop, he starts to see dark things out of the corners of his eyes. As macabre mementoes of the earlier climbers turn up on the trail, Stephen starts to suspect that Charles Lyell's account of the tragedy was perhaps not the full story...

 
**********
 

This is the third book I have read by Michelle Paver and like the previous two; Without Charity and Dark Matter is Thin Air an OK book, but like the previous book does this also lack something to make the book great. Now is this book way different from Without Charity since that book is a historical romance. However, Dark Matter is a horror book just as this one. Or rather both are ghost stories without any horror. At least that's how I feel. And, that's the big problem I have with this book. It's an interesting story, but it lacks intensity.

Thin Air is an interesting book about a group that decides to climb Kangchenjunga in India. I was quite fascinated with the books premise. Horror stories that take place in isolated places are great and I was quite looking forward to being swept off my feet. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I liked the story, but I didn't love it. There were interesting moments, but I just felt that I never really connected with either Stephen Pearce or his fellow travelers. I liked the idea that one of the men from the previous expedition was left behind and that Stephen Pearce felt haunted. But, it just never got really interesting.

This book did not rock my boat. This is a book that sounded very good on the paper, but ultimately it failed to deliver, mainly because it was just not even a teensy bit chilling to read

Graveyard Shift by Casey Daniels

Graveyard Shift: A paranormal mystery (A Pepper Martin Mystery) - Casey Daniels

Pepper Martin, now Community Relations Director of Garden View Cemetery, is contacted by the ghost of Eliot Ness, one of Cleveland’s most famous dearly departed. According to Ness, the ashes scattered at the ceremony twenty years earlier weren’t his. His were stolen prior to the ceremony by a Ness groupie, and he cannot rest until those ashes are found. Luckily, Pepper has an idea where they may be.

Knowing she’ll have no peace until she does what the ghost wants, Pepper travels across town to retrieve the ashes...

 
********
 

First, I want to say that the description of the book gives away too much information of the book. So, I have removed the part of the description on my review here on my blog so that it's less revealing. Luckily, I must have skimmed the description before I started to read the book since I only had a vague idea of the book's story. And, I like it that way. I don't want to know too much!

Anyway, I found the book to be quite charming to read. It actually felt like just the perfect book to read at the moment, a cozy mystery book is always nice when you have read heavier or darker books. Graveyard Shift is the first Pepper Martin book I have read, and I admit that it was Eliot Ness that caught my attention. I found the idea of his ashes being stolen quite interesting and people seeing ghosts is always intriguing. I had no problem getting into the book, despite no previous knowledge, instead mentionings of previous cases, etc. just made me interested in reading previous books. Pepper Martin was easy to like. However, I found her mother quite annoying and I wished sometimes that Pepper would just tell her to stuff it! Quinn, Pepper's boyfriend did I have some trouble warming up to. I don't know, I just didn't find him that interesting. Perhaps I will grow to like him if I read more books in the series.

The case in itself was not earth-shattering mysterious. It was perhaps a bit too easy to figure out (especially if you have read the description) what would happen and there were no great twists to the story. But, I liked the book, the story was easygoing and charming and I definitely recommend this series to people looking to read a cozy mystery series with a paranormal touch!

 
I want to thank Severn House for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 

Quick Off the Mark by Susan Moody

Quick Off the Mark - Susan Moody

Alex Quick investigates the murder of a close family friend in this intriguing, intricately-plotted mystery"


In her former career as a police detective, Alex Quick was exposed to some brutally violent crimes but none as horrific as this. A badly mutilated corpse is discovered in a field, the victim castrated, the word cheat carved across his chest. The dead man was a close family friend of Alex, and his sister has asked her to find out who killed him and why. 

Although they d been friends as long as she can remember, how well did Alex really know the late Tristan Huber? Why would someone murder him in such a violent and cruel way? Whoever she questions, Alex finds that people are reluctant to talk, keeping things back from her including Tristan's sister, Dimsie. The more Alex uncovers, the clearer it becomes that Tristan Huber was not who, or what, he appeared to be. But is she prepared for the shocking truth?
 
********
 

This is the first book I have read about Alex Quick. I was intrigued by the cover and description and decided to give it a go. The book starts off with a close friend of Alex is found in a field tortured to death. And, the man's sister begs Alex to look into it since Alex used to be a cop. But, it's not that easy, Tristan, the dead man, seems to have many secrets, and then more people are getting murdered and Alex is at a loss to what they all have in common.

I got a strong Midsomer Murders vibe when I read this book. I could see how the old man is walking his dog when he spots the body, cut to the intro music, and then the murder investigation started. Well, of course, if Barnaby had been a woman, and not a policeman anymore. But, still. Alex had been a cop and just like in a Midsomer Murders episode the bodies started to pile up.


I quite liked reading the book. The story was engaging and interesting, and Alex was an easy character to like. And, one of her best friends; Sam is a hot single bookstore owner that seems to like her quite a lot. I wasn't sure about what who was behind all the murders until around the end when I started to see a pattern, or rather, suspect that I knew what linked all the murdered people together. Although I had some problem with the book, like for instance, I forgot one of the murdered men, I had to go back and reread a part in the beginning to fresh up my memory. It was a bit odd when the person was mentioned in the book and I was totally blank to whom the hell he was. But, then again, there were terribly many deaths. Also, like A Midsomer Murders episode was this book quite nice, but still I can't say that I found it to be that thrilling to read. It was an OK book, the characters didn't bother me, the case was interesting, but I was not entranced with the book.
 
I want to thank Severn House Publishers for providing me with a free copy through Netgalley for an honest review!

Cover Crush: In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekbäck

Erin over at Flashlight Commentary is the one that came up with the cover crush idea and I loved it so much that I decided that every Thursday would I post a cover that I really love. 

***********
The cover for In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekbäck caught my eye the other day. This is the English cover of the book, but I saw the Swedish version, which is pretty much the same, but as you can see there are some differences...

 
 
Description:
 
An orphaned boy brought up to serve the state as a man. A rich young woman incapable of living by the conventions of society. Neither is prepared for the journey into the heat, mystery, violence and disorienting perpetual daylight of the far North.
 
Stockholm 1856. 
 
Magnus is a geologist. When the Minister sends him to survey the distant but strategically vital Lapland region around Blackasen Mountain, it is a perfect cover for another mission: Magnus must investigate why one of the nomadic Sami people, native to the region, has apparently slaughtered in cold blood a priest, a law officer and a settler in their rectory. 
 
Is there some bigger threat afoot? Blackasen seems to be a place of many secrets. 
 
But the Minister has more than a professional tie to Magnus, and at the last moment, he adds another responsibility. Disgusted by the wayward behaviour of his daughter Lovisa - Magnus's sister-in law - the Minister demands that Magnus take her with him on his arduous journey. 
 
Thus the two unlikely companions must venture out of the sophisticated city, up the coast and across country, to the rough-hewn religion and politics of the settler communities, the mystical, pre-Christian ways of the people who have always lived on this land, and the strange, compelling light of the midnight sun. 
 
For Lovisa and Magnus, nothing can ever be the same again.
 

***********
 
Check out this week's cover crush over at 
 
Flashlight Commentary
 
 
Layered Pages
 
The Maidens Court

Arton grader minus (Eighteen Degrees Minus) by Stefan Ahnhem (SWE/ENG)

SWEDISH REVIEW

 

En bil kör ut över kajkanten i Helsingborgs hamn efter en våldsam biljakt. Allt pekar på att det var en olycka, men när föraren, en it-entreprenör som gjort sig en förmögenhet på mobilspel, obduceras visar det sig att han redan varit död i två månader då han hållits nedfryst.

Det är vår och nästan två år har passerat sedan händelserna i Offer utan ansikte. På Helsingborgs kriminalavdelning har det varit ovanligt lugnt. Fabian Risk har kunnat ägna det mesta av sin energi åt att lappa ihop sin familj. Men även om varken han eller någon av hans kolleger skulle säga det högt börjar de bli uttråkade, och när det märkliga fallet med den nedfrusna miljonären landar på deras bord känner de alla samma sak: Äntligen händer det något.

Rakt över sundet har Dunja Hougaard tvingats ta på sig uniformen igen i sitt nya jobb som ordningspolis i Helsingör. Men när en hemlös utsätts för en så pass brutal misshandel att han avlider kan hon inte hålla sig från att dra igång en egen utredning där spåren snart leder till Helsingborg.

Fabian och hans team kämpar mot klockan i en utredning där ingenting visar sig vara som det ser ut. Snart vågar han inte längre lita på sitt eget omdöme, och finner de inte lösningen kommer snart nästa offer att hamna i frysen.

Arton grader minus är en gastkramande och suggestiv kriminalroman om jakten på en iskall mördare. Det är den tredje fristående delen i serien om Fabian Risk efter de internationella succéerna Offer utan ansikte och Den nionde graven.

 
**********
 

Arton grader minus är den första boken jag har läst i Fabian Risk serien, men jag har hört mycket gott om serien. Nu är det alltid lite vanskligt att börja läsa mitt i en serie, men har man tur så är boken lätt att komma in i och man blir intresserad av att läsa föregående böcker. Arton grader minus handling var intressant i och med att det första offret de hittar har varit död i 2 månader men att någon har använt sig av hans identitet under den tiden. Frågan är har detta hänt tidigare och kommer det hända igen? I Danmark kämpar Dunja Hougaard med att anpassa sig till sitt nya jobb. Efter att ha förfalskad sin chefs namnteckning miste hon sitt jobb och blev degraderad. Men, kanske kan hennes nya fall få henne på fötter igen?

 
Arton grader minus är en intressant bok, men jag hade vissa svårigheter med boken, och det allra största var att jag fann karaktärerna en aning flata och ointressanta. Hela delen med Dunja Hougaard kändes i stort sett som en helt annan bok och det var första på slutet som en viss koppling anknöts till fallet i Sverige, eller snarare till Fabian Risk. Och sorry, men Dunja och hennes ex-chefs vendetta mot henne känns som gammal skåpsmat och ett till synes ointressant sådant. Då var fallet med den nedfrysta kroppen mer intressant, men den delen av boken förstördes också en aning av det tråkiga sidospåret med Fabians son Theodore som till sår dela ömkade sig.
 
Allt i allt, inte en helt perfekt bok, men jag gillar sista delen av boken när allting började dra ihop sig och intressant vändningar i handlingen uppstod. 
 

Tack Bokförlaget Forum for recensionsexemplaret!

 
ENGLISH REVIEW
 
A car drives out of the quayside in the port of Helsingborg after a violent car chase. Everything indicates that it was an accident, but when the driver, an IT entrepreneur who made a fortune in mobile games, is autopsied is it revealed that he had already been dead for two months and that he has been kept frozen.

It is spring and almost two years have passed since the events in Victim Without a Face. In Helsingborg, the criminological department has been unusually quiet. Fabian Risk has been able to devote most of his energy to patch up things with his family. But even if neither he nor any of his colleagues would say it out loud, are they starting to get bored, and when the strange case of the frozen millionaire lands on their table they all feel the same thing: At last something is happening.

Straight across the strait in Denmark have Dunja Hougaard put on her uniform again in her new job as a community police in Elsinore. But when a homeless person is subjected to such a brutal beating that he dies, can she not stop herself from launching her own investigation where the tracks soon lead to Helsingborg.

Fabian and his team must race against the time in an investigation where nothing turns out to be as it looks. Soon, he dares no longer trust their own judgment, and if they don't find a solution soon will the next victim soon end up in a freezer.
 
**********
 
Eighteen Degrees Minus is the first book I have read in the Fabian Risk series, but I have heard very good things about the series. Now, it is always a bit risky to start reading in the middle of a series, but if you're lucky, is the book easy to get into and you become interested to read the previous books. The story was interesting in that the first victim they find have been dead for two months, but that someone has used his identity during that time. The question is has this happened before and will it happen again? In Denmark, is Dunja Hougaard struggling to adapt to her new job. She lost her job and was demoted after forging her boss's signature. But, perhaps her new case will get her on her feet again?
 
Eighteen degrees minus is an interesting book, but I had some difficulties with the book, and the biggest was that I found the characters a little too flat and uninteresting. The storyline with Dunja Hougaard felt almost like a completely different book and it was the first at the end as the storyline was linked to the case in Sweden, or rather to Fabian Risk. And sorry, but Dunya and her ex-boss vendetta against her feel like it's been done so many times before and it was pretty uninteresting to read about. The case with the frozen body was much more interesting, but not even that storyline was perfect as it contained a tedious side track with Fabian's son Theodore who spent his time moaning about his awful life.
 
All in all, not a perfect book, but I like the last part of the book when everything began to come together and interesting twists in the plot occurred.
 

Thanks Bokförlaget Forum for the review copy!

 

Love Volume 4: The Dinosaur by Frédéric Brrémaud

Love Volume 4: The Dinosaur - Frederic Brremaud

Life in the primordial swamps of prehistoric Earth was a daily trial of survival, especially for the smaller dinosaurs just trying to get by without being trampled, attacked, or eaten. Not even the biggest beasts were safe, as there always seemed to be an even bigger threat looming on the horizon. This exciting tale, written by Frederic Brremaud, is told without narration or dialogue, conveyed entirely through the beautiful illustrations of Federico Bertolucci. A beautiful, powerful tale of survival in the animal kingdom that explores the all-too-identifiable, universal concepts of Life, Courage, Aging, and ultimately Love.

The fourth volume in the lavishly illustrated series of wildlife graphic novels, each following a single central animal through an adventurous day in their natural environment. Each tale depicts genuine natural behavior through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling, like a nature documentary in illustration.

 
**********
 

I love this series of graphic novels. This is the fourth and I tell you it's a pure joy "reading" each of them. The graphic is fantastic and it's hard not to be caught up with the story or feel sorry for the animals that don't survive. And, the ending of this book ... well, it's heartbreaking.

 
 
 
 
 

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

 
 

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

The Secret Language of Stones - M J Rose

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family.

 
**********
 

The Secret Language of Stones is the sequel to The Witch of Painted Sorrows. In this book, we get to meet Opaline, the daughter of Sandrine who was the main character in the previous book. And just like Sandrine is Opaline a Daughter of La Lune, a descendant from La Lune, the famous courtesans from the sixteenth century Paris.

I read the first book last year and I found it intriguing and looked forward getting the chance to read this one. However, it has taken me forever to get to this book, despite having had this book for a long while. But, the third book will be released next year so I thought I should take the time to read this one. And, I liked this one just as much as I liked the first one. I like the whole La Lune storyline, with women being descended from her with different abilities, like Opaline who can read stones and by doing that receiving messages from the dead. And, now in the time of war is that a gift that is a comfort too many,

The story in this book is about Opaline embracing her gift, she has long struggled with her gifts, wanting to be normal, and she has never really accepted her abilities fully. But, now she faces many difficulties, she finds herself in love with a fallen soldier, and a daughter of La Lune can only love once. Is she doomed to love a man that she can never have? And, the world is in turmoil and perhaps she can help the Romanov dowager empress find out what happened to her grandchildren...

The Secret Language of Stones is a sensual, well-written story about a woman that has to face many obstacles in her quest to find herself. I did suspect the ending, it felt very predictable, but I still liked it because I wanted just that ending for Opaline.

It was a good book, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for through Edelweiss an honest review!

The Top 15 books of 2016

 
My Top 10 books of 2016 quickly turned into top 15 instead of 10 when I started to go through the books I've read. It could just as easily have been top 20, but I had to draw a line somewhere. The books are in no particular order because that would just mean hours of agony and indecision. So, on to the books: 
 
 

From New York Times bestselling author and famed former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein comes a chilling new Alexandra Cooper novel, Entombed, in which Alex matches wits with the master of detective fiction himself-Edgar Allan Poe...

 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 

Sometimes I wish that she’d just leave me in peace . . .

Psychologist Evi is worried about one of her patients – a woman who is convinced her little girl is still alive. Two years after the fire that burnt their house down.

Meanwhile, the new vicar in town is feeling strangely unwelcome. Disturbing events seem designed to scare him away.

And a young boy keeps seeing a strange, solitary girl playing in the churchyard. Who is she and what is she trying to tell him?

READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
Media calls him "The Birthday boy" because he kidnappers girls just before they turn thirteen and then he sends pictures of them home to their families showing how he slowly tortures them to death. Every year they get a new card. 5 years ago Detective Constable Ash Henderson's daughter Rebecca was kidnapped. One year later get a card, but he keeps that a secret for his colleagues and because if they would know would he not be able to stay on the investigation...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, a novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 



West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter...

 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 

Jerome Burnel was once a hero. He intervened to prevent multiple killings and in doing so damned himself. His life was torn apart. He was imprisoned, brutalized.

But in his final days, with the hunters circling, he tells his story to private detective Charlie Parker. He speaks of the girl who was marked for death but was saved, of the ones who tormented him, and an entity that hides in a ruined stockade...

 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 

Lorena "Hick" Hickok is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 political campaign. This is the start of a love story that would last for years, despite long periods of separations and the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was to become The First Lady of United States. But, this love story could not last. Madame, that Hick so lovingly called Eleanor could never become someone anonymous again, even after FDR death.
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
In her storied career as a Texas Ranger, Caitlin has confronted all manner of villains, but nothing that’s prepared her for the terrorist group ISIS’s pursuit of a devastating weapon on Lone Star State soil. The land in question lies on an Indian reservation where a drilling operation steeped in mystery and controversy is about to commence under the auspices of shadowy billionaire Cray Rawls...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates...
 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 
Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked...

READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 


Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she's rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë's literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that's never been shown outside of the family.,,

 
READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
 

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.

READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 


A five-year-old boy from a remote farm on the plains of Skåne disappear late one summer evening in 1983. The only trail after him is a shoe in the tall corn fields. 

Although the whole neighborhood gets involved in the search do they not find him, and rumors and suspicions spread quickly. And, the clumsy criminal investigation is, in the end, closed down when they can't find the boy, and the grief and uncertainty get the boy's family to slowly fall apart.


READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE
 
Thoughts and honorable mentions:
 

The hardest part was I found other really great books while making this list. But, I decided when I made this list that I would not change since it would only make everything messy. And, soon I would be up in Top 25 instead of top 15...;)

But, I would like to mention some really great books that I read during 2016 that I found to be brilliant: Dead Man Walking by Simon R. Green, Arrowood by Laura McHugh, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Melody Bittersweet and The Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French and Redemption Road by John Hart...Honestly I could go on and list all my 5-star books, but instead just check out my Goodreads page!

Harley Quinn, Vol. 5: The Joker's Last Laugh by Amanda Conner

Harley Quinn Vol. 5: The Joker's Last Laugh - Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti

Mason Macabre is more than just Harley Quinn s neighbor in her new Coney Island digs he just might be the man of her dreams. But to save his life, she ll have to face the clown of her nightmares!
With Harley and her gang of merry maidens battling to keep innocents out of the crossfire of her enemies latest vendetta, Mason s been whisked away to the one place our hellacious heroine never wanted to set foot in again: Arkham Asylum. Inside its horrific halls, Mason is at the tender mercies of none other than the Joker and Harley and the Clown Prince of Crime have had the mother of all bad break-ups. 


Will she and the madman who helped make her what she is kiss and make up long enough for her new beau to escape with his life? Or this time, will the joke be on Harley Quinn for good?
It s the reunion you ve been waiting for! Courtesy of acclaimed creative team Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, HARLEY QUINN VOL. 5: THE JOKER S LAST LAUGH proves that when it comes to true love, Harley s not joking around! Collects issue #22-25 of the ongoing series and the special issue, HARLEY QUINN: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR."
 
*********
 

The problem with waiting let's say around two months to write a review is that the memory is a bit hazy. However, there are some things that I do remember from this volume and that's that I was disappointed that the Joker was hardly in it especially when you see the cover and read the description and the description pretty much tells you what will happen. They fight and break up. Ta da! I liked the last part of the volume best, with Harley finding a genie...hilarious.

That doesn't mean that the volume is bad, I did like it, I found it amazing and it was a hell of a lot better than the previous volume. The art is, as usual, good as well. I had when I start to read a comic and the change the artist along the way and ruin everything. But with Harley Quinn, is the art pretty much always good!

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!