The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright

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From the book:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?


My Review:

It’s a bit hard to believe that this multi-layered, intricately crafted tale is Jamie Jo Wright’s debut novel. She did a marvelous job of building tension and creating that perfectly eerie atmosphere that a good mystery needs. I found my eyes flitting across the page (against my will!) to see what was coming up—that, to me, is a great sign of a well-written mystery.

And it’s almost like you get two complete novels in one, because of the historical story running alongside and intertwining with Kaine’s story. Bonus! The House on Foster Hill is a terrific read! I’d recommend you pre-order it or grab your copy as soon as it is released on December 5, 2017.

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

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London Calling by Sara Sheridan

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From the publisher:

In the years following World War II, former Secret Service employee Mirabelle Bevan has found a refuge in the quiet coastal town of Brighton. But she can’t seem to resist an attraction to danger and a thirst for justice . . .

“1952: Eighteen-year-old debutante Rose Bellamy Gore was last seen outside a Soho jazz club in the company of a saxophone player named Lindon Claremont. Now her mysterious disappearance is front-page news in the London tabloids.

“When Lindon turns up the next day in Brighton, desperately seeking help, Mirabelle counsels him to cooperate with the authorities. After the local police take the musician into custody and ship him off to Scotland Yard, Mirabelle and her best friend, Vesta Churchill, hop a train to London in search of the truth.

“As they scour smoky jazz clubs searching for clues to the deb’s disappearance, they descend into a sinister underworld where the price of admission can be one’s life. Mirabelle will need to draw on her espionage skills to improvise her way out of a disappearing act of her own . . .”

I read the first Mirabelle Bevan Mystery last year (Brighton Belle – find my review here) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mirabelle’s second adventure, London Calling, was just as wonderful. Sheridan does a marvelous job of evoking the romance and risk of the Jazz Age in London. And her characters thrive in it. Mirabelle is such an intelligently crafted heroine – full of wit and chutzpa – someone a quiet soul like me can look up to. And it was a pleasure to get to know Vesta (another strong female character in her own right) and hear her story more in this adventure.

The mystery was well-plotted and nicely-paced. This was one of those fabulous stories that I just had to know, so I stayed up way past my bedtime to see how Mirabelle figured it all out. If you enjoy a mystery, you’ll certainly like Mirabelle Bevan and her adventures. And, as with the first book, Brighton Belle, I think London Calling would make a terrific book club selection with tons of layers and history to keep your discussion flowing.

Grab your copy when London Calling releases on March 28, 2017.

Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

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From the back cover:

“The rolling mists that creep in over the Yorkshire moors hide a mystery as challenging as Drew has ever faced.

“At the urgent request of an old school friend, Drew and Madeline Farthering come to Bloodworth Park Lodge in the midst of the Yorkshire moors, a place as moody and mysterious as a BrontĂ« hero. There have been several worrisome incidents around those lonesome rolling hills–property desecrated, fires started, sheep and cattle scattered. Worst of all, the vicar has been found dead on the steps of the church, a crime for which Drew can discern no motive at all.

“Few in the town of Bunting’s Nest seem like suspects, and Drew can’t keep his suspicions from falling on his friend’s new bride. Do her affections lie more with her husband’s money and estate, while her romantic interests stray to their fiery Welsh gamekeeper? As the danger grows ever closer, it’s up to Drew to look past his own prejudices, determine what’s really going on, and find the killer before it’s too late.”

I think I may have a bit of a crush on Drew Farthering…he’s charming, witty, intelligent, and imperfect. And I liked him even better in this novel than in the first in the series, because he was so misled by his own prejudices, so realistic, so like I can be at times! And the secondary character work in Murder on the Moor was also very well-handled — each character introduced had a well-fleshed history and was purposeful to the plot, not just window-dressing. Deering spun a good plot and wove it into a rather enjoyable mystery.

Murder on the Moor is the fifth book in Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries, and it’s the second one I’ve read (Book One, Rules for Murder, being the first one I read). While Murder on the Moor was an entirely charming read, I found myself wishing I hadn’t skipped the three books in between, since she references past cases and people that have affected the characters, making me feel a bit left out of the loop at times. Guess I’ll just have to find the time to go back and read the ones I missed! Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this classic murder mystery.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

IQ by Joe Ide

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From the publisher: “East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes. ”

I enjoy a good mystery, and Joe Ide’s debut novel, IQ, is just that: a decent detective story. I started off laughing about chloroform in the prologue, dove into the bulk of the story believing I knew whodunit, and finished up fairly impressed with the book as a whole. Plot twists, multi-faceted characters, and some pretty philosophical moments make this a good read for lovers of detective stories.

IQ will be available from Mulholland Books on October 18th!

Thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

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The intrepid Flavia de Luce, 12-year-old chemistry aficionado and part-time sleuth, has returned home to Buckshaw from her “exile” at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, only to find not only no welcoming party, but her father in hospital and her beloved chicken, Esmerelda, gone. At least her faithful companion, Gladys the bicycle, is still there to take her on an errand…on which Flavia, naturally, discovers a dead body in a very strange position. Can Flavia figure out why the body was tied, upside-down, to the back of a door, or will distractions on the home front keep her from finding out the truth?

How can you not love a Flavia de Luce novel? Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, the eighth of the full length novels in the series, is overflowing with whimsy, suspense, a healthy dose of snark, and even heartbreak – it’s got it all. All of the notes I took while reading were smiley faces, chuckles, and *snorts*s, with the exception of a few of those Flavia moments where she gets beautifully philosophical.

Alan Bradley has done a marvelous job of creating one of the greatest young protagonists to ever grace the page. Flavia is one of my all-time favorite characters. Her interactions with Gladys always make me giggle. Who knew a bicycle could have such a great personality? I find myself laughing out loud more often reading a Flavia de Luce mystery than probably any other novels I’ve ever read.

If you have not read a Flavia de Luce novel, you are so missing out! I started with the first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and fell in love instantly. While I don’t think you’d have a problem starting anywhere in the series, I personally would recommend you take them all in. They are fabulous! Pick up a copy as soon as possible – Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d will be released September 20th!! 🙂

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group and Net Galley for the free advanced copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Heretics of De’Ath by Howard of Warwick

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There’s been a murder at the monastery in De’Ath’s Dingle. Or has there? Brother Hermitage, who has been accused of the murder, believes that Brother Ambrosius simply died from over-exertion and old age. But it seems that others in the monastery are willing to believe the worst of Hermitage while ignoring other strange goings-on. When the local bishop’s aide appoints the town idiot, Brother Simon, to investigate the death, Hermitage and his new friend, Wat the Weaver, purveyor of tawdry tapestries, will have to try to get to the dirty bottom of things on their own.

I decided to read The Heretics of De’Ath based on the intriguing description – something along the lines of Monty Python meets Cadfael. It sounded great – a laugh-out-loud mystery – and I must say it was a pretty decent read. While it wasn’t as hilarious as I’d imagined it would be, I did find myself laughing in places at the rather bawdy humor.

Brother Hermitage had me at turns adoring him then wanting to smack him upside the head. I did appreciate how his character grew through the story, learning how to cope with the world outside and inside the monastery. And Wat the Weaver was great: the man makes his money from what is, essentially, the Dark Ages’ version erotic art, but he’s an intelligent, caring man at the same time.

The plot had just enough curves to keep it interesting and make me wonder how they’d manage to untangle it all. While it was a bit slow to really get going, I was never even tempted to give up. It was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the next book in The Chronicles of Brother Hermitage.

**Special note: This story does poke fun at the Catholic Church of the Dark Ages. So, if you are sensitive to that sort of humor and would be offended, make sure to steer clear.

Many thanks to Cameron Publicity & Marketing, Ltd., The Funny Book Company, and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Brighton Belle by Sara Sheridan

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It’s 1951 and Mirabelle Bevan, former clerk for the British Secret Service during World War II, has moved to Brighton and now manages the office for a small-time debt collector. One day while her boss is home ill, she accepts a case for him, which sends her off into a whirlwind of adventure. The case is supposed to be pretty open-and-shut: Romana Laszlo, a young pregnant woman from Hungary owes some money. But when Mirabelle finds out that Romana and her baby have suddenly died, she begins to suspect that there is more to the story. When she meets Romana’s sister, her suspicions deepen, and she determines that she has to know what is really going down in Brighton. Mirabelle and her friend, Vesta, will face bigotry, danger, and adventure as they search for the truth.

Just like a catchy tune, I really enjoyed this book and kind of wanted to hit the back button and read it again when the end came. I read it on my flight(s) to Florida, and it truly made the time go faster! I was transferred to the post-World War II British seaside and reveled in it. It was easy to read with multi-layered characters and enough plot twists to keep me involved in the story. And Mirabelle was great: a 21st century woman stuck in the 1950s. She reminded me of the characters on the BBC show “Bletchley Circle” –  a former British Secret Servicewoman whose skills are not being used in her relatively dull current life, but who flourishes when she can utilize those skills again. And flourish she did – from a shrinking violet, whose most daring move was sitting in a beach chair without paying, to a Venus flytrap, catching the bad guys and showing the cops who’s boss!

I’d definitely recommend this book. It would make a fabulous book club selection!

Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂