My Rating: 4 Stars
A collection of memorable short stories featuring all the Queen of Mystery’s beloved characters: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Parker Pyne. I was very glad to find it on the shelve of my local library ready for the taking.
In this novel the titles present are:
All the stories show the brilliant mind of Agatha Christie and her great plots full of twists and hidden motives. From tales of greed, thirst for money, revenge, jealousy and betrayal, Christie covers all the themes she is famous for and does it in the style that all the fans are familiar with.
The disadvantage of the short stories is the lack of character development and the limited descriptions of the setting, but even so, Christie made it work by going straight to the point and the stories are all very engaging. Being a fan of Hercule Poirot above all the Christie’s characters, my favourite story is The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest, the almost-perfect murder. I will definitely read more about Parker Pyne, he revealed himself to be a mysterious detective with a unique way to thinking that got me intrigued from the beginning.
A short collection that I recommend if you’re looking for a quick Agatha Christie read!
My Rating: 5 Stars
One of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read this year! I’m a fan of Caine’s work on The Great Library series and it was a pleasant surprise to read something so far from the fantasy world!
Gina Royal had it all: the house, the husband and her two children, completely unaware of the deadly secrets hidden behind a perfect family picture. When a car accident brings to light that her husband is a serial killer, Gina becomes Gwen Proctor, a woman on the run from accusations and internet stalkers that find her guilty of helping her husband. In desperate need to settle down, Gwen moves to the remote house of Stillhouse Lake where she thinks her children and herself will finally have some peace. That is until the body of a woman is found floating in the lake, killed with the same method Gwen’s husband used.
It’s a horrific, thrilling and suspenseful novel that had me glued to its pages, right from the first chapter. The style of writing and the very well thought plot made this novel very addictive and compelling. The feeling of paranoia is always present and the characters will share that feeling with the reader. The atmosphere builds up perfectly and every event just adds to a great climax. The novel works perfectly on the dangers of the internet and how “internet is forever”. The author describes very well the social dilemma of how the family of a criminal is easily put in the same bag even though they had nothing to do with the acts committed by that individual. People tend to forget that there is a chance they might be victims too. Also, beware: if your husband doesn’t show you his garage, maybe it’s not just his workshop after all…
The characters are well developed and very well described. Gwen is a great main character and a warrior; I was proud to read about her deeds and the demonstration of her courage. Her first priority is always her children and if she has to break the rules and moral codes to do it, so be it. It takes a lot of courage and a strong spirit to be able to do what she does in the novel. Overall, the relationships in the novel are solid, especially between Gwen and her children and Gwen and her neighbour.
A great psychological thriller that I recommend to all the fans of these genres.
This review was originally published on NetGalley.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Another page-turner! This collection keeps getting better and better, exciting and a bit sad.
After being separated and living in two different worlds, Connor and Alex try to adapt and learn as best as they can without each other. Connor, living in the real world, dedicates himself in writing fairytales and wins the chance to see the Brothers Grimm graves in Berlin. He ends discovering a mysterious clue left behind in one of their unpublished works: a warning about an enemy trapped in time and worlds. Together with his classmate Bree and Mother Goose, Connor will travel far to return to the Land of Stories and stop this new threat. Meanwhile, Alex is a fairy-in-training with few magical attempts turning out right. Can she deal with the pressure of being the next Fairy Godmother and lead the Fairy Council?
The setting is perfect as always and I really enjoyed reading the beautiful descriptions of Berlin, a city I had the pleasure of visiting before. What is really great is that there is always a new part of the Land of Stories that the reader will get acquainted with and secondary characters that we’ve read about in the first novel make a reappearance.
The plot was amazing, very imaginative. The idea of setting the French army from the Napoleon times as a villain and how exactly they end up in the Land of Stories is very well thought and very well executed. An outside enemy from the Otherworld is also a great way to unite the habitants of the magical world and to start a new path, a new era.
The characters continue to grow and it’s very enjoyable to see their transformation throughout the books. Red is still one of my favourite characters, she makes me laugh so much with her comments but I also felt for her when things took an unexpected turn. She is truly a queen at heart and by the end of the book, she grew a bit more. The additions to the story just added more spark and thrill. Bree is very much like Connor: the love for adventure, they both share the ability to see through the lies. Emmerich is sweet and innocent but has the heart of a warrior. He trusts Connor and Bree right from the beginning and jumped into an adventure that he didn’t fully understand. They make a grand team! Alex will always be a heroine for me; the way she takes on her defeats and how she takes control of things when everything gets out of hand is inspiring especially considering her young age.
A very good book just like all the others before it!
My Rating: 5 Stars
A great historical/mystery novel! It was the first time I read about the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and it captivated me from the very beginning.
Andrea Warren is haunted by the suicide of her father while searching for the coffins of Beechland a group of 117 people that went mysteriously missing in 1590. Being a young archaeologist, Andrea takes on her father’s path only to discover that her attention is very much unwanted. Someone is trying to stop her from discovering one of the biggest mysteries of the American culture but with what purpose? Can she finish what she started without losing her life?
Deborah Dunn did a great work in presenting so much historical details and research throughout the novel. It fits perfectly with the story and it made it believable, especially when put together with her own opinion of what might have happened. The mystery that is built around the legend is solid and it kept me captivated all the way through. The approach the author takes in presenting past events through dreams and visions is brilliant. No questions are left unanswered and no strings are left loose.
The descriptions are amazing. The details are so realistic that I could actually see, feel and smell what Andrea sees in her visions. Furthermore, there are the descriptions of the landscape. North Caroline both in the present and the past were described in a way that made me want to visit. The images of the small towns along the coast are mesmerising.
In the beginning, the reader is given a timeline with the known events and their dates of Roanoke; it gave me a first introduction to the theme of the novel. In the end of the novel, the author gives a clear image to the reader of what is real, what is fictional and a small bibliography if there is further interest, details that truly make the difference for me.
It’s an incredible, captivating and thrilling novel that I highly recommend to the fans of a good historical mystery.
This review was originally published on NetGalley.
My Rating: 4 Stars
What a read! Unique, imaginative and very dark: what is there not to like?
The story takes place in 1910 where occultist and adventurer Ingrid Redstone travels to the City of Angels in search of the Aztec portal to the afterlife. She didn’t count on meeting Death on the side and get on a ride through the history of the city. As their relationship develops and grows deeper, Ingrid realizes that their worlds' weren’t meant to cross and in the end, she will have to choose between a life with the living or amongst the dead.
I admire the author for the work on the organization of the storyline; in the beginning, it was a bit tricky and complex to understand and follow but then it really drew me into the story. I think it’s the first time I read a novel that manages to mix dark fantasy with historical fiction, vintage times, mystery, supernatural and romance. It is a dangerous attempt but the author managed to successfully create a unique, refreshing and new style entirely. There is an exceptional view of the underworld, how it works, how time passes differently; details that built this dark world. The way the characters explore past times and meet several notables of the old days is a great idea. I wish I had the chance to sit with Alfred Hitchcock! The historical settings of the novel are also very well described and I really do enjoy a good story that takes place in the jazz days.
The characters are solid and their interactions are very human. It’s a love story but it’s not a fairytale either; they have communication problems, misunderstandings. It’s easy to see that Death isn’t used to interact with anyone, especially not with a human woman. I see Ingrid has a more quiet type and more hesitant when it comes to Death. She jumps into the unknown without thinking very much about it and how it actually might end for her but at the same time she lets him take all the initiative, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Overall, a great, unique, thrilling adventure that I recommend to all the fans of a more complex romantic fantasy.
This review was originally published on NetGalley.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This collection is definitely one of my favourites so I finally decided to sit down and write the reviews for the books I’ve so far. The sequel to The Wishing Spell is just as good as the first.
A year after their first adventure in the Land of Stories, the life of Alex and Connor Bailey is as normal as it can possibly get. But peace or boredom isn’t meant to last forever and their world takes a turn for the worse when their mother is kidnapped. Knowing the twins well enough, their grandmother sets a tight security around them to protect them and to avoid their interference. Of course, that doesn’t stop Alex and Connor from finding a way into the Land of Stories and from starting a journey to put an end to the reign of terror of the evil Enchantress.
The style of writing is amazing and very engaging. I could read a certain maturity, it’s like the author grows with the twins. I appreciate the evolution and how the conversations between characters are more mature but at the same time, there is no loss of humour and wittiness.
The setting of the novel is just as colourful and captivating as before and I was glad to explore it in more detail together with the heroes and villains. I took my time to appreciate the villains, their personalities and background stories since they are an essential part of this world and how the plot develops. I’m not sure I should call them villains though because one of the lesson’s Colfer teaches the reader in this sequel is that everyone is both good and evil and no one is evil without a reason. Like in our world, good and evil are part of life and one can’t be without the other much like without fear there would be no courage. Furthermore, I admire the way the author mixes all the fairytales and ends up with the perfect cocktail of magic and storyline.
The storyline follows the same line as the first novel but, for me, it wasn’t predictable what would happen next. I think that in this instalment, the journey is more about relationships and growth than the collection of magical artefacts. Don’t get me wrong, they are important, but I think Colfer wanted to show that in the end, just magic doesn’t cut it, it’s about friendship and trust.
There is a greater character development in this novel. Colfer reimagines the characters that all fairytale lovers know and gave them a unique voice and personality. I particularly like Goldilocks, a complete badass and Red, for her hilarious personality and responses to Goldilocks. Who knew that Little Red Ride Hood could hold such a grudge? Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to like all the characters and really feel for the Enchantress.
A great sequel to a great collection that I can’t recommend highly enough for children and adults alike!
My Rating: 5 Stars
I’ve read this book a while back and finally got around to write its review. Chris Colfer, also known for his character Kurt Hummel in the TV series Glee, revealed himself to be a great writer, not only in his style of writing but also with his imagination.
Alex and Connor Bailey have a very ordinary life: they live with their mother, they go to school and have their own friends. As their birthday approaches, the twins receive a collection of fairy tales stories called “The Land of Stories” given by their grandmother. But not everything is what it seems: when Alex and Connor accidentally fall inside the book, they will come face to face with all the magical characters and kingdoms they grow up to know and love. Stuck in the Land of Stories, the twins have to gather the ingredients for the “The Wishing Spell” to be able to return home, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A famous villain escaped prison and she’s ready to take her revenge. Alex and Connor start a journey through the fairy-tale land, racing against time to return home, making new friends, enemies and discovering secrets that will change their lives forever.
Being a fan of fairy tales as I think many readers are as well, I completely fell in love with this world. This universe of the Land of Stories is full of colour and it’s exactly like I imagined it when I was younger. But like the original stories, it’s not all good. I really enjoyed the structure and the construction of this world, and the detail of the map in the beginning of the book is just perfect to help create a mental image of this magical place. The novel takes place after the “happily ever after” and it’s incredible how Colfer managed to introduce the “after”. What happened to the princes and princesses? What were the consequences of the sleeping curse from the tale of Sleeping Beauty? Absolutely brilliant! It made me wish that I was right there with Alex and Connor; I never wanted the book to end.
The style of writing is engaging, witty and sometimes comical, which works perfectly for me. The storyline is solid and very entertaining; not a single boring moment! The reader is introduced to characters that we all know very well, and they are all very well developed; they have their own personality and their own voice and together they create this amazing and unique world where magic rules. A detail that I particularly enjoyed is that the princesses aren’t at all damsels in distress: they are feminine, compassionate, but they also have a unique strength of character that makes them not just symbols of beauty but also of leadership.
The unique style of Chris Colfer also showed in the way he presented valuable lessons in the story. The messages are presented in crucial moments of the story; they are simple to understand and essential for children to learn and for adults to remember. For example: always be yourself, don’t let anyone change you into something you are not; no one is born evil, circumstances of life changed them and their vision of the world; never judge someone based on their appearance, you don’t know the trials they went through. These are just a few, there are plenty more.
A magical experience and a novel that brings back memories and emotions from childhood! I can’t recommend this book enough!
My Rating: 5 Stars
An epic fantasy worth all the five stars! Thank you, J. Kyle McNeal, for reaching out and giving me access to the novel through NetGalley.
Two young men from different circles have a greater destiny beyond their wildest dreams and hopes. Quint is the son of a powerful religious family and leads a sheltered life, but everything changes with the introduction of the tribes of Dragonborn. When his life is turned upside down, Quint has to lead and advise his people. Will he be able to since he knows very little of his responsibilities? On the opposite side, Whym’s life has always been haunted by poverty, being born in one of the poorest parts of town; he has little hopes for the future. His life changes when he is given the opportunity to become the apprentice of a mysterious figure. Both men will have to face the journey of their lives, forced to go through dangerous geographical and political paths and war, filled with hidden enemies, dangerous lies and glimpses of truth.
I have a lot to write about on this novel. I loved every moment, every page of this story: I was taken into a different world, immersing myself in its history, its complexity, its characters and social life. But allow me to start from the top.
The style of writing is mesmerizing and I truly admire how the author managed to described and give depth to the world of the Lost Lands and its characters without leaving the reader bored or tired of the descriptions. Furthermore, the organized and methodical structure of the novel leaves no space for loose ends, which is the best satisfaction a reader like me could have. It starts with the lightness in the first chapters, thoroughly building up, providing background stories, introducing characters that sooner or later will have an impact in the story. I have this image that the words are like puzzle pieces that come together to create something bigger and beautiful. I got completely absorbed by the words; it was difficult to put the book down.
The characters are just as complex as the reality they live in. I have to be honest and confess that I did have to make a list with the names of the characters and who they were since I did end up forgetting who they were at some point, but that didn’t influence my view of the novel at all. It is an extensive list of characters however and all of them have a distinctive way personality, and they are all very aware of the issues of their society. They have depth and are well-developed; it was easy to connect with them. The way the novel is written gives the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters as individuals and then as a group. I really felt their connection with each other, not only based on their conversations but also their actions.
Overall: beautiful scenarios, unique characters and a thrilling story-line make this a very promising fantasy series! I vividly recommend this novel to all the fans of fantasy that want to live a unique adventure in this wonderful world!
My Rating: 4 Stars
The depth of this long-short story took my breath away for all the right reasons.
KumKum Malhotra, a treat for lovers of women fiction, tells the story of a woman who lives a quiet life in the small town of Nizamudin, New Delhi with her husband and her children. Her world and her mind are turned upside down, when an unfortunate event takes place right before a family dinner, unlocking the doors to a journey into the deepest layer of the self.
The lyrical style of writing, brought together with rich vocabulary and the ability to look in depth into the inner-self make this book a must-read in contemporary literature. The reader is taken down the rabbit hole and it just kept becoming darker and darker with each passing turn as the layers of the identity of the main character are stripped away. The secondary characters give a different contribution to the construction of the plot coming together as pieces of a puzzle to create a bigger picture in the end. It gives depth to the novel and to its characters, making it easier to relate and sympathize with them.
Preti Taneja is able to match the emotions, the fast-paced events and the slow moments with the style of writing and the vocabulary creating an intense and suspenseful atmosphere throughout the story. The ending comes unexpected, leaving the reader wanting to know more, which the author leaves open for interpretation. It leaves a lasting impression on the possible fate of the characters and on the modern issues captured in the novel. The author approaches a number of themes that are still existent in contemporary India: the role of women and what they have to face in their daily lives, the truth about marriage and family life, the complexity of human relations and the clash between the tradition and modernism. In the centre of the story, the reader finds the contrast between liberal and conservative societies and how ‘freedom’ gains different meanings depending on the cultural background. Anya, the tenant that stays in their home for a short time, represents the modern way of thinking: the lack of taboos, free from the boundaries of tradition and the expectations of a community. KumKum is stunned when Anya speaks freely about sex, to which she receives the response: ‘Hey, liven up, Sisterji,’ says Anya with a smile and a shrug. ‘It’s 1993.’. It shows the two different realities like the sides of a coin and the opposition between conservative mentality and liberal openness. Moreover, there is the ability to accept and more about other cultures. Anya shows interest in the culture of the community and takes initiative to participate in common day-to-day tasks, while KomKom and her family create their own opinion based on her behaviour and her conversations. The question that is raised is if western culture is freer than a conservative culture, and if so, what does being free entitle.
This long-short story has the potential to become a longer literary work, however the narrative shouldn’t have the same lasting impact on the reader nor it wouldn’t be just as intense due to its consistency and intensity of events and writing style.
It’s a read that deserves every recommendation.
Preti Taneja is unique in her style and her voice, and I will definitely be on the lookout for her future works.
This review was published on Ofi Press Magazine 54
My Rating: 5 Stars
Thank you, E.R. Harding, for reaching out and sending me a free digital copy of Manumission in exchange for an honest interview!
A great, gripping novel that takes place in the near future where technology is key to immortality. In a world where human conscience can be uploaded into a computer and loaded into a new body, the Metaform Corporation’s goal is to put an end to death. Gabriel, son of the leader of a cult, confronts his father and as a result, becomes the leader himself with a single objective in mind: to bring down Metaform Corp. Will his plan work or will he get more than he bargained for? It seems that some secrets aren’t meant to go public and some will do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The novel is very addictive and gripping; the storyline is brilliant, refreshing and there is enough action to captivate the readers' attention. I never considered this approach for the future, but it’s true that it actually fits with the quick evolution of technology that we are witnesses of nowadays. It’s a bit concerning to think that only the sick and the old get buried or cremated while the bodies of the young and the healthy get turned into vessels for other consciousness to live on.
The writing style is intelligent, captivating and witty; by the descriptions, it actually seems like that world is very real. I think the author really made emotions transpire through her writing and her characters. Certain moments made me laugh; others hold my breath and in others even tear up a bit. I really enjoyed how Harding gives hope in a world ruled by technology where immortality is a reality, how people deal with the choice of dying or living another lifetime in someone else’s body. It’s a haunting question, which one would you choose?
The characters are very likable and they fit perfectly with the story and this reality. They are complex and deep, which made me love the novel even more. The author did a great job managing the changing between the first and the third person in the novel; it was easy for me to follow the story.
I’m not a fan of the sci-fi genre but Manumission became one my favourites. I will definitely buy it on paperback. I highly recommend this novel to all the fans of dystopias and sci-fi!
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.