My Rating. 4 Stars
A classic crime novel that brings back the flare of the golden age of detective literature. A quick, pleasant read.
In a small English village, Miss Ethel Tither is the most unpopular lady. Set deeply in her religious ways, she makes it her mission to know everything about everyone. However, before she can open her mouth too much, she appears murdered. When attempts in solving the case came out blank, the local police is forced to reach out to Scotland Yard that sends Inspector Littlejohn to crack the case. Who in the village was desperate enough to shut the busybody up permanently and why?
I can’t say I knew the author when I requested the book but I did a little research. George Bellairs was a classic crime author that wrote detective stories in from the 40s to the 70s. He is best known for the adventures of Detective Inspector Littlejohn stories. Poisoned Pen Press started re-issuing old crime classics and I’m very glad they did. “Death of a Busybody” is the third instalment of the series. The vintage touch to the story is amazing and refreshing to read.
The style line is quite simple and the mystery is relatively easy to solve. All the clues are there to be openly picked by the reader and the slow pace of the story gives enough time to digest everything. At the same time, there are a few twists and surprises that add something extra to the story. In the end, the case closes very nicely and all loose ends are tide. Additionally, the author tells the reader about the fate of certain characters which gives a very nice touch and depth to the story.
The settings are the typical small villages in the country with the typical country style and people. The love for gossip, the criticism and the fake smiles give off the feeling that not everything or everyone is what they seem. Bellairs takes his time to present it and bit by bit reveals more about its inhabitants, but on the contrary of what one might think, the more you think you know, the less you actually know.
The style of writing is compelling and captivating. I got a bit lost in the midst of all the dialects and typical small town phrases but still, it added charm and made the story and its characters more real. The author did a great job in adding lightness to very serious situations.
There are many small clues like black-out curtains on the windows, petrol shortages, land girls doing jobs on the farms and some mention of rationing, but rationing had not reached the extreme levels which later years made necessary. There is a tea shop which specializes in all sorts of sweets and there is definitely no shortage of sugar at this point. There also is not a single mention of fighting on any front and that is quite at variance with most mystery novels set in this time period.
“Death of a Busybody” was a fun, quick read with unexpected twists and memorable characters. I recommend this novel to all the fans of classic detective stories!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and the British Library Crime Classics, for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This collection is the perfect read for lovers of books and mysteries. What can be better than murders themes around books?
These 15 short stories were written by distinguished mystery writers and they make every story count. The editor Otto Penzler put together an anthology of crime between books that fill fit the likes of most readers. From hidden messages inside old books, a deadly bookseller and the deep secrets a library might hide, make this book impossible to put down.
Each storyline is different but they all have something in common: books. The title was definitely well picked and it describes perfectly its content. All the stories take place in modern times and they all involve different types of books or characters related to books like booksellers, book collectors, books privately owned, public displayed books and even an old scroll. Even though most of the stories can be classified as thriller/mystery, some of them have a fantasy touch to them and one fits in the fantasy genre completely.
The authors with stories on this collection, by order of appearance, are:
The editor Otto Penzler did a great job putting this anthology together. All the authors have different styles of writing, different ways of describing and interaction with the reader which is very refreshing when you’re jumping from story to story. Some of the authors I’m familiar with and it was a treat to read some short works from them, like Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Cook and John Connolly. Additionally, discovering other authors just made my to-read list a bit longer for next year.
I absolutely recommend this anthology to all the fans of murder mysteries and books. These great authors write great stories and getting to know other creators of this genre might help you discover some great books you haven’t read yet.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Pegasus Books and the editor for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book can only be described as pure magic, for several reasons. It resonates with the soul.
A young girl forgot part of an important memory of her childhood. Nineteen years later, Liesl is an under-appreciated girl that seems to be doomed to remain the ugly shadow of her beautiful young sister and her talent brother. She lives to care only for others, not caring about herself at all. Growing up with stories of the Goblin King, Lord of Mischief seemed just like any other fairytales, stories that in time stop being listened to. Everything changes when her sister is taken by goblins into the Underworld and the Goblin King himself sets a challenge: she has to rescue her sister and give her life in exchange for her freedom. As her relationship with the King grows, her life grows short. The wheels of fate and choice are set in motion: to stay and die or to live at the cost of her music?
This novel is a pure work of art. The writing style is breathtaking and slowly but surely it sings to the readers’ soul. The words are like music notes that play quietly in the distance and they bring out the longing and the nostalgia of memories that are half-forgotten. It’s like reading poetry but in verse. S. Jae-Jones revealed herself to be an enchantress of words.
The plot is unique and developed in a unique way. It’s a strange world where reality and illusion meet and, from the beginning, the reader isn't supposed to try and distinguish them. Wintersong is imagination, a vivid dream and it’s so well described that it pulls you in right from the first page. Everything that happens in the story and even the descriptions of rooms, the forest and Liesl’s home, they all mean something. The symbols are there so the reader can interpret them and the author leaves them that freedom. The scary part is that, in the end, everything just leads to the same ending. It’s a tale of remembrance, loss of innocence, sacrifice and acceptance, not only of the circumstances but also of one’s self and our individual value.
The characters are just as unique as the story. Liesl is an incredible heroine and she isn’t the typical fair maid that needs rescuing. She is a real, unpolished young girl that couldn’t be more of an opposite to her family and their ways. On the contrary of her sister that is known for her beauty and her arrogant, spoiled character, Liesl doesn’t mind staying in the shadows with her self-doubt, her jealousy and her desperate desire to be noticed. She isn’t pure, at times she’s cruel, but that’s the way humans are. She needs to be broken in order to find her true self, to go beyond social barriers, expectations and most of all, her own self-doubt.
The characters are good and evil, innocent and devilish, self-absorbed but selfless too. The Goblin King, the main male protagonist, is also a victim of a trick of fate and destined to be judged by a title he never desired. He’s a tragic figure, bond to live eternally alone, in darkness. There are no heroes and no villains in this story.
This book will mark its reader deeply, for its melody, its soul-felt story and beautiful characters. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
My Rating: 4 Stars
This was a different, tricky and great historical mystery where both the living and the dead are suspects. Very refreshing!
Recently widowed Alice Goodway developed the ability to speak to spirits. She decides to become a medium with the help of her aunt and helps those who wish to speak with their loved ones. Her life is turned upside down when she receives a threatening letter quickly followed by a dead body in her home. The sceptic Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan and open-minded Constable Jaggery are sent to investigate and catch a killer before they reach their price: Alice herself.
The first book I read by A.J. Wright and I loved it. I’m curious to read the first story and how it all began. Even though I felt like I was missing something with the relationship between the characters, I would say it can still be read as a stand-alone.
The plot is brilliant created and developed. The plot takes place in the Victorian Age, Lancashire 1894 which gives a very English taste and a very nice setting for a murder. Everything about the crime makes sense and slowly the reader is taken on a trip through several people, ghosts and clues that entangle the story and make it hard to guess the identity of the killer. The fun part is that it can be both the living and the dead which were for me, a treat to read. The best part is that no strings are left loose and the complex case is beautifully solved. It was a tricky, evolving murder mystery full of twists and turns that leave the reader glued to the pages to see what the next page has in store.
The style of writing is simple, compelling and it has the appropriate tone and vocabulary from the 19th century. The reader doesn’t get lost in the story and the tone of the narrative runs as smoothly as the story itself. Wright doesn’t make it easy though. The tone of which he writes is suspicious and even though he doesn’t full out blame someone, he installs doubt in the mind of his readers, in a very skilful way indeed.
The characters are quite colourful since there are many of them. The author throws all sorts of clues but the reader will not be 100% sure if it’s a real clue or a distraction attempt. Even so, all the characters play their part and each one has a certain depth to them. The dead characters add spice to the story and I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book like I did without them. In the beginning, however, it was a bit difficult for me to remember all the characters, their names and identities since they all get introduced in the beginning. But, as the story goes on, everything becomes easy to follow.
A great historical mystery that can also be considered a cosy-mystery to be enjoyed by all the fans of the genres.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Endeavour Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A wonderful plot, unlike anything you’ve read before. A great beginning of an epic journey.
A storm during a delivery to a rural area completely changed the life of Robby Ribbon. After a few wrong turns, he’s completely lost and without meaning too finds and rings a Bell that isn't supposed to ring at all. After the incident, everything changes and war follows. Was it just a coincidence? Robby embarks on a journey that he doesn’t understand, meeting companions along the way that in the end will change more than just his world, they will reveal who he truly is.
I completely fell in love with this book. It starts with something so simple and develops into something more complex and it turns the novel into something epic and memorable. I’m counting the days for the next instalment. It’s a novel that is to be read at a steady pace. For me, it’s not meant to be rushed, it’s meant to be savoured and to be enjoyed to the minimal detail.
The world building of The Bellringer is fantastic. The author takes his time to explain the history of this world and build you a complete painting of how it’s organized. I really enjoyed the map detail: there are maps in the introduction that shows each continent and country. For me, it’s a very positive point since it allowed me to have an overview of the general lines of this world. In the beginning, I had struggled to read it since the pace was a bit too low for my taste, but it’s needed to have a better grasp of everything that comes after. Once the bell in rang, all hell breaks loose and the pace speeds up significantly. Sadly for me, it doesn’t have a happy ending and it leaves the reader with a big book-hangover.
There are several storylines and each one is a different adventure. The best part is that some of them come together in the end and others are left to the imagination of the reader, which for me it’s a positive point. The characters are incredibly created: there are several main and secondary characters and they are all developed in depth. In this novel, it’s easy to be drawn to the characters and just journey with them. Sometimes the reader might even wish to be there to give some insights and advice. They are so well imagined and developed that I could almost hear their voices in my head throughout the novel. Robby, the main character, has a great heart. Even though he’s completely at loss, in the beginning, he takes on a journey that might actually be the death of him and he still has his head held high. Better than Robby, just Shelia, the female character. She is a badass, tough because of her background. I’m curious to see what her role is going to be in the next instalment. There isn’t much information about her apart from glimpses of her past, but I have a feeling she will be very important in the future.
This isn’t the typical fantasy book. I can’t really put it in words, but the feeling it gives and the feeling it leaves in the reader is deep and long-lasting. I have a major book-hangover with this one. I highly recommend it to all fantasy fans. This is the beginning of an epic saga!
I want to thank Xpresso Book Tours and the author William Timothy Murray for sending me a paperback copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An incredible book that was worth the time it took to read it. This is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year and also one of the biggest.
In 19th century England magic is remembered as part of a glorious past but no longer used in the present. Even so, there are those that question if magic will return and if it’s possible t bring it back. The reclusive Mr Norrell starts his journey by moving from the quietness of his home and the company of his books to London where he brings a young woman back from the dead and summons an army of ghost ships to give England an advantage on the war with France. The road to fame and glory seemed imminent until a young, handsome, charming, untrained magician makes an appearance. Jonathan Strange is the opposite of Mr Norrell and in time a battle of wits, beliefs and magic puts in motion a series of events that will change the fabric of history and unleash consequences that will remain the in memory of England forever.
A compelling story and an enchanting novel that isn’t meant to be rushed but to take time to savour.
Being a little over 1,000 pages this novel proves that Susanna Clarke not only wrote a story but she also created a unique and mesmerising world. The accurate interpretation and use of historical facts and the typical language of this period bring this novel to a league of its own, bringing characters to life and pulling in the reader until the very last page. There is a perfect balance between fantasy and historical fiction and the deep knowledge of the magic spells and myths which allows the reader to fully understand the story without getting lost in the process. In some parts of the book I thought it grew a bit tedious but then something changes in the storyline and I couldn’t put it down again.
The style of writing is beautiful, subtle and very compelling. I admire the author for the brilliant use of the typical 19th century English with all its smooth phrases and rich vocabulary and how she manages to capture the readers' attention, to engage their imagination but at the same time not losing any of the strings that build the story in a steady pace. The amount of detail is just enough to allow the reader to vividly imagine the setting, the characters and the interactions between characters. Susanna Clarke is a true word magician: she was able to create a solid plot, with no loose ends while bringing together magic, history, warfare, politics, social and domestic life. A genius of literature.
The characters are extraordinary and there is no difference between the amount of characterisation of the main and secondary characters. The depth and solidity they have are incredible, each one with its own story, beliefs, opinions, qualities and flaws. Furthermore, all the characters contribute to the story in one was or the other and it was thrilling to see how their actions, both direct and indirect, are pieces that make the puzzle come together in the end. Jonathan Strange is my favourite character. He has his flaws, like being impulsive and arrogant, but at the same time his passion, his thirst for knowledge, his passion for books and his almost obsessive need to understand the past in order to build something new are some of the features that I highly enjoyed. The relationship between Strange and Norrell was one of my favourite to read and explore throughout the novel. Going between friends and rivals, their confrontations and verbal disputes creates such a chemistry that makes the reader anxious for more direct encounters.
A great book that I recommend for the fans of stead-paced story build-up and a unique tale that will leave a long-lasting impression.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book includes everything I enjoy in a story: a good, scary Gothic tale set in Victorian times.
The story starts with Elsie Bainbridge, a young woman that is recovering in the hospital, unable to speak about a number of murders that she’s accused of committing. Since she doesn’t speak a word, she’s advised by one of the doctors to write down her story. Elsie is a recently married and recently widowed young woman that moves to her husband’s old estate, The Bridge, in order to bury him and give birth to her child. Surrounded by her husband’s cousin Sarah and three servants, Elsie begins to realize that in the walls of the old estate dark secrets are whispered in its walls. From strange figures of children and maids painted in wooden boards which seem to watch every move and seem to never stay in their designed place, to some old diaries that described the horrific events that took place in the beginning of the Bainbridge family’s downfall, Elsie slowly begins to transform from a confident and bright young woman to a broken shell governed by nightmares of past events she doesn’t fully understand.
A creepy Gothic horror novel that left me afraid to look at the walls and the paintings of my house for too long. It’s a deeply unsettling story that I will remember for a long time as being one of the books that made me be afraid of the dark for a few nights.
The setting is perfect for me, it hold everything for this novel to be a true horror story. It takes place in 1866 in Victorian England and in an old estate that has more history than its inhabitants realize until it’s too late. The story-line is solid and all the historical facts make this novel memorable in many ways. It’s a psychological horror story that develops perfectly from beginning to end, suspenseful until the very last page. The fact that the author started with the end, the reader is fully aware from the first page that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
The style of writing is brilliant and it creates this atmosphere of suspense within a complex plot. I’m an admirer of the authors that manage to recreate a Victorian novel with all the phrase structure and vocabulary that truly brings the reader closer to the plot and its characters. The way that Laura Purcell writes builds up the horror throughout gets the reader completely addicted to the story even if deep down they're waiting for something scary to take palce.
The characters are amazing and as mesmerizing as the plot itself. Elsie is a great character and it’s impossible for the reader not to get involved in her story and feel for her as she walks down a dark path without realizing. Her transformation from a strong woman to a depressed, hollow, traumatized, mute, full of scars character is both admirable and scary.
A brilliant, creepy novel that will scare any reader out of hers/his wits. I highly recommend this novel for the fans of the genre and of Victorian fiction.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bloomsbury, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
I absolutely love and admire Miss Phyrne Fisher. A woman wise beyond her years with modern vision and temperament; what is there not to love?
The story starts as a murder mystery always starts: a death. A sweet, innocent fairy-story writer/illustrator is found dead. This time, Miss Fisher will jump into the world of magazine publishing and investigate deeply to find the truth. As the staff isn’t at all helpful, she works together with the police to see the matter solved and justice done. However, she is also involved in a second case, of a more personal nature. Her lover Lin Chung travelled to China a few weeks before and no one has heard from him since. In a family ruled by secrets and dark intents, will Miss Fisher be able to rescue her lover before it’s too late?
This was a deep and complex novel, just how I like them. There are two different plots in the story: the writer’s murder and the disappearance of Phyrne’s lover in China. The author did a great job in developing these two different cases in one story without them getting mixed up together or leaving loose endings. The first plot is steady-paced, very “according to the law” procedure (suspect interviews, taking evidence, analyzing patterns); but the second plot is where the juicy things happen. The tempo is a lot quicker, full of suspense and action. In addition, since it’s a more personal case, Miss Fisher works alone which makes things a lot more interesting.
The characters are memorable. I really enjoy Miss Phyrne Fisher as the main character, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the determination of iron, she will do everything to protect the people she loves and lives by her own rules. She is a strong woman with a matching temper, not afraid to make her opinions known, to call out injustice and of breaking the rules every now and then. She is the opposite of what a woman should be back in 1928. Dot is a great companion and a lovely character too. Lin Chung is, as I imagine him, very handsome and sweet but at the same time, he hides a few secrets of his own. He’s daring and interesting which is why I enjoyed the chemistry between Phyrne and him so much.
A great read that I recommend to fans of strong female protagonists and of a great murder mystery!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
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 of 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.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.