Plague Pits & River Bones by Karen Charlton 4
The fourth in the Detective Stephen Lavender mystery series set in the early 19thC. Murder, highway robbery, political intrigue and the slave trade combine to make a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable tale. A wonderful blend of historical fact and fiction, this story is well researched and well written. It kept me on my toes with plenty of twists and turns and hurtled along to an almost cliffhanger ending! I’ve already read book one, The Heiress of Linn Hagh. I will be returning to read books two and three and I guess I will have to read book five to find out what happens next. I think this will prove to be an excellent series.
Home Sweet Summer by Michelle Vernal 4
An engaging and heartwarming tale about finding yourself again. Isla returns to her roots in Bibury, New Zealand, after a failed relationship in London and a short spell in a Californian counselling haven. Life starts to look up as she begins to become part of the community again and joins in the planning of a fund raising ‘matchmaking’ event to renovate the local village (for want of a better word!) hall. This is a lovely little story. It’s nicely written and flows along. It’s quite humorous, it definitely had me chuckling a few times. There are some well drawn and vivid characters. I particularly liked Bridget who seemed to have everyone else’s interests at heart, whilst keeping her own secrets and conundrums very cloak and dagger! The ‘matchmaker’ is an interesting idea and I thought this added a bit of magic. A light-hearted and easy read which I enjoyed.
The Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart 4.5
A story about an autistic eight year old boy who lives with his mother and whose father is trying hard to connect with him and save his marriage. I thought this was quite a moving tale and loved how the father gradually came to understand his son more. There’s some humour, too, and I really liked how it was written. Quite a lot of it is centred around a computer game called Minecraft and I did find this bit tedious, not only because I haven’t heard of the game but because I have no interest in computer games! Apart from that, I really enjoyed it.
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 5
Inspired by the life of Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanova and her affection for an injured Russian Imperial Guard, Dmitri Malama, who came into her care at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo where she volunteered as a nurse during WWI. It's a dual timeframe story and is told through the eyes of Dmitri and also those of his (fictional) great grand-daughter, Kitty. I was totally captivated by this 'what if' tale. There's a fantastic combination of historical fact and fiction. I knew the fate of the Romanov family but not all the details. This book filled me in and I was quite horrified by their barbaric and brutal end. So cruel! This story was a wonderful imagining of what might have happened if Tatiana and her soldier had survived. It's beautifully told and all the characters felt so very real. I could just picture Kitty sitting outside her cabin, drinking wine and watching the sunset after a day's carpentry renovation! I really liked Dmitri but my favourite character has to be another lady who came into his life, Rosa. Such a colourful and Bohemian sounding person! And I loved the thought of (non-fictional) Ortipo, the French Bulldog, a gift from Dmitri to Tatiana, with her Fabergé dog tag! An absorbing and fascinating story. I just loved it!
Thirteen by Shani Struthers 5
Another great companion novella to add to the Psychic Surveys series. This one introduces Ness Patterson who is a Psychic Investigator. It gives a good insight into her character, how she is as she is and what makes her tick. Ness travels to the Isle of Skye to investigate spooky and sinister goings on at a lighthouse. Thirteen is unlucky for some and it definitely is in this tale! I loved the setting, just right for a ghost story - it’s very atmospheric and wonderfully described. I could just visualise the remoteness of the island and the unpredictable weather conditions. The characters are very believable and realistic. What more could you want from a spine tingling eerie read!? Just keep your lights shining! You never know what’s out there.
Coming Home to Island House by Erica James 5
This story begins in 1939 when Romily Devereux Temple returns home from a trip to France to find her husband, Jack, ill with a stroke. Jack tragically eventually dies. Under the terms of his will, his estranged children must spend a week together at Island House to try to build bridges, mend old wounds and put the past behind them. This is a lovely family drama and I got quite immersed in all the characters’ lives. It’s beautifully written and told. I enjoy tales set around a house and it’s occupants so it was right up my street. It’s some time since I’ve read a book by Erica James, so this one has put her on my list to read more of again! I loved it!
(The ‘spoiler’ book is one which I received to review but I’m not supposed to post until a month before it’s published. I don’t know why as I’ve seen reviews for it already! I’ve put it under a spoiler so it can’t show up on a search.)