Celine by Peter Heller

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Celine is a private eye who specializes in finding missing people. When Gabriela comes to Celine to find her father who went missing over twenty years ago in Yellowstone National Park, Celine is off to Yellowstone with her husband Pete, hoping to be able to reunite father and daughter. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Great descriptive setting
  • Older main character
  • Slower descriptive read
  • Mystery
  • Teenage pregnancy 

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As a reader who is nearing into the older side, I have started to love books with older main characters. Celine was a great older character. She had so much complexity that I think comes with a longer life. She was a compassionate woman who has one of those personalities that people find themselves comfortable around and opening up to. Yes, this is a mystery and we follow Celine to Yellowstone to go with her as she researches and hunts for clues to find what happened to this missing man. But, the story felt not so much about a mystery but about Celine. The mystery was the way for us to get to know Celine and understand her. I really loved this flip on a mystery and I found myself wanting to know more about Celine and wanting to observe her as much as I wanted to know what happened to Gabriela’s father. 

Before going to Yellowstone Celine flies to Colorado, were her son lives, to borrow his camper which she then drives to Yellowstone. I grew up in Colorado and as a child we took many family vacations camping in Yellowstone. Author, Peter Heller, brought all those memories alive for me with his descriptive writing. I could see The Colorado Rockies and I could picture that drive to Yellowstone as you travel through sparse Wyoming. Then to arrive in Yellowstone and see the animals everywhere, the trees, the people, it was all as I remembered it. 

This book had me with an older main character, Colorado and Yellowstone. And it kept me hooked with the mystery, Celine and the descriptive writing. 

Bringing Down The Duke by Evie Dunmore

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In England in1879, Annabelle is among the first female students to attend Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement by recruiting men of influence to help their cause. Things become complicated when she meets the Duke of Montgomery, who opposes everything she stands for, but who she can’t stop thinking about.

QUICK GLANCE

– #1 in the A League of Extraordinary Women series.

– Women suffrage movement

– Forbidden love

– Steamy scenes

– Historical fiction/ romance

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of Bringing Down The Duke. I liked learning more about the women’s suffrage movement, what was done and some of the reasons it was done. I really enjoyed reading about Annabelle, a woman who loves to learn and working hard to be able to do so. The friends she makes while working with the suffrage movement were all fun and varied. I liked how the women had different reasons for supporting the movement, I would have enjoyed going more into depth about these women. I enjoyed Sebastian, the Duke of Montgomery and reading about the challenges of being a young Duke and the responsibilities that he had and felt.

I had a really hard time with the romance between Annabelle and Sebastian. It happened so fast that I just didn’t buy it. There were steamy scenes that felt forced to me, they did nothing to add to the characters or the plot and they were to explicit for me. I feel like they could have been cut out and wouldn’t be missing at all.

I found Bringing Down The Duke to be a great historical fiction read and not a great romance.

The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett

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Carole discovers a dead body on the beach early one morning. She tells the police, but when they investigate they find no body. When Carole realizes the police do not believe her, she soon finds herself investigating what happened to the body with her neighbor Jude. Jude is new in town and Carole and Jude are complete opposites. Carole typically would not even befriend Jude beyond what is socially expected, but the two women become friends as they investigate what happened to the body on the beach.

QUICK GLANCE

– 1st book in the Fethering Mystery series

– Friendship

– Small town with quirky characters

– Older main characters

– Cozy mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Body on the Beach. I loved the small town of Feathering and the people who lived there. I came to have my favorites and I hope they return in future books. I loved how Carole and Jude were in their fifties. I don’t come across very many books where the main characters are older and it was fun to read the perspectives of older women. I loved watching Carole and Jude go from strangers to friends. They are very different from one another and they often had me laughing. The mystery had me guessing until the end and I enjoyed watching Carole and Jude investigate. Neither one is a professional investigator and it was fun watching them make mistakes, feel uncomfortable and develop new skills. I can’t wait to continue with this series.

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg

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Dr. John Watson, his son Dr. John Watson Jr, along with the help of Joanna Blalock, the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, solve the mystery behind a man Joanna and her young son saw falling from a building. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries
  • References to cases of Sherlock Holmes
  • Light reading

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️

This was a book I was excited to read. I thought a mystery with the daughter of Sherlock Holmes was a great premise. It is a great premise and it is a good book for light, easy reading. I was hoping for a bit more substance and found myself rolling my eyes often. My first eye roll occurred when I realized that all of the original characters’ children went into the same careers as their parents. Even Detective Lestrade’s son is a detective and the murderer is a son of a murderer from Sherlock’s time. As the detective work progressed everything came so easily to the trio. Every person they interviewed gave them the information they needed and they didn’t really seem to come against any obstacle. I found these characters lacked substance and I found myself not interested in them at all. 

His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

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After going through training Maggie is ready to start her first assignment as a spy where she will be dropped into Germany and gather information from top Nazis. But is she really as prepared as she thought she was? 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #3 in the Maggie Hope Mystery series
  • World War ll
  • Historical mystery
  • Woman spy
  • Nazis euthanasia of those they saw as defective, including children
  • Ongoing storylines from past books in the series

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

I had about an even amount of things that I loved about this book and things I didn’t.

I had trouble connecting with the characters even though this is the third book in the series. Many of the characters, old and new, seemed to do things out of the blue that didn’t really fit with the rest of their actions and there wasn’t any explanation for it. There was also a storyline with a very side character that didn’t really fit with the rest of the book and I’m not sure what the point of it was. The plot moved a bit slowly for me and when it would pick up something would very conveniently happen that then slowed it back down. 

I did really love the historical aspects of the book. I had no idea the Nazis were killing children that were ill. There were many other mentions of things the Nazis were doing that had me doing research to see if it was true. I love learning about things I didn’t know before especially with the many World War ll books there are. I enjoyed the unique looks into some of the things happening. 

The things Maggie experiences in Germany leave her broken. I do look forward to the next book to see how, and if, Maggie recovers. 

Penny For Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber

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Verity and her husband, Sidney, continue to adjust to the end of the war. While their relationship is sturdier now, Sidney continues to struggle with demons. They soon find themselves involved in investigating two deaths. First, is the death of Verity’s friend Ada’s husband, Lord Rockham. Then the death of a former Secret Sister colleague’s sister. Though the two deaths seem to have no connection, Verity begins to wonder if they are in fact connected. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #3 in Verity Kent series
  • Look into upper class England in 1919
  • Historical fiction/ mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I found Penny For Your Secrets engaging and fun to read. I loved the look into what life is like after a war.  Not just for individuals but also society as all have changed and people must decide if things will go back to the way they were before or if the changes are good changes that should continue. 

I continue to enjoy Verity and Sidney and their relationship. Because of the war they have both changed and were not together as those changes happened. I enjoy watching them as they navigate who they each have become while also adjusting to who their spouse has become. 

The mysteries were engaging and had me guessing and I really loved the historical looks into 1919 and learning about a British cargo ship whose crew vanished during the war. 

I received a copy of Penny For Your Secrets from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Where The Dead Lie by C.S. Harris

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While uncovering the murder of a young street urchin Sebastian discovers that homeless, orphaned children have been disappearing from the streets of London. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #12 in the Sebastian St. Cyr series
  • 1813 London
  • Mystery
  • Street children
  • Child abuse

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sebastian always keeps me hooked and the time passes quickly. I enjoyed the look into what drives some men to cruelty and some to kindness. The author once again does a great job describing Victorian England, though the look into street children at that time was depressing, it was done without much graphic detail. I enjoyed all the characters, especially those that have carried on from past books. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have more of those characters. I wanted more Sir Henry Lovejoy and more Hero, the feisty Hero. 

Triptych by Karin Slaughter

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A crime thriller told in three parts involving police detective Michael, ex convict John, Georgia Bureau of Investigation specialist Will, and Angie a vice cop. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in the Will Trent series
  • Lots of cussing 
  • Graphic abuse
  • Rape
  • Child abuse
  • Prostitution 
  • Life in jail
  • Tough read
  • Mother’s love and dedication
  • Heartbreaking
  • Characters that are complicated and very layered 

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I came so close to only reading 50 pages of Triptych. The story starts off being told by police detective Michael and I did not like him. I wasn’t in the mood to read about another male, conceited, cussing, degrading, police detective. I did a quick search on Goodreads to find out if the series was going to continue with this character and his attitude. I learned that there are multiple narrators in the story and Michael was not the main character in the series and so I decided to stick with it a bit longer. I’m so glad I did! 

The subject of murdering and torturing women was a difficult one and I did not love all the cussing and graphic details. However, I did not feel as though it was done just to be crass. I felt like it was done in a manner that added to the story and helped me to see a part of many people’s lives that is far from my experiences. It’s so easy to judge people who are loud and rough but the author does a great job in helping me understand why some people are loud and tough and unlikeable. I loved the story of John and I felt like his experiences of being an ex-con  were the most realistic I have ever read. John’s story, past and present, was heartbreaking and what made the book for me. The suspense and thriller aspect of the novel was gripping and I was shocked as details were revealed. All of the characters were very well developed and though I did not like all of them I understood where they were coming from. They were characters with so many layers to them that I was just as intrigued and hooked by the characters as I was by the mystery

Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt

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Set in the 1920-1930’s and told through letters, newspaper articles, and diary entries about the death of a famous Russian immigrant writer, his wife and a young Russian refugee. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Mystery
  • Look into life in Russia in the 1920’s
  • Human need for love
  • Slow reading
  • Psychological thriller

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️

I really loved the premise of Invitation to a Bonfire and I really enjoyed the look at what life was like for the two classes during the Russia Civil War and how neither the monarchs or the poor benefited. I found the writing to have a sophisticated feel to it which I enjoyed. It was the kind of reading where I had to slow down to really get the beauty of the words. However, the plot and details in the story did not match the sophisticated writing. I did not understand the characters at all. So many of their decisions came out of no where and so many of the events seemed so unrealistic. Not only did I not understand the characters but I did not like them. They were selfish and I quickly grew tired of them. When the characters are in America so many of the details and descriptions given did not match the time period. I felt much more like I was in the 1950’s than early 1930. There also were just to many inconsistencies with the characters and their actions that just didn’t work for me. I think this was suppose to be a psychological thriller and maybe that was the reason for the inconsistencies but it just didn’t work for me

My copy of Invitation to a Bonfire was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

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A look at a Muslim community in Canada as characters Ayesha and Khalid navigate their Muslim community, family, being a part of a larger community, love and discovering who they are. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Racism
  • Religious freedom
  • Love
  • Marriage

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really loved learning more about the Muslim religion and culture and the challenges that a Muslim faces living those beliefs in a community where they are the minority and not understood. 

I struggled with the characters. I didn’t really like any of them. They seemed selfish and I didn’t really feel like they learned from their experiences. I never liked Ayesha. I felt she wanted other people to change but never seemed to look at her life to see how she could be a nicer, more empathetic person. I was sad that Khalid gave up who he was for Ayesha. 

I was also a bit confused about what the author was saying. I felt like the story was showing the prejudices, especially religious prejudices, that people face when their beliefs are different.  But then I felt the story was doing exactly what it was trying to speak up against. If we shouldn’t look down on the religious beliefs of others than why did the book discount the religious belief of arranged marriages? I loved how Khalid stood up for his beliefs and I was disappointed that by the end he did feel a need to change.