Review: A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

A Dangerous Collaboration
  • Series: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (March 12, 2019)

A Dangerous Collaboration (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery) by Deanna Raybourn is the fourth Veronica Speedwell mystery. Normally, I don’t read series books, but I’m glad I read this one.  I’ve added A Curious Beginning (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 1) to my reading list.  I understand book 5 is underway!

A Dangerous Collaboration takes place in 1888 at a castle on an island in Cornwall, England.  This is a terrific setting for a who-done-it mystery.

Veronica is a feisty women for her time.  She is independent and vows never to marry.  Stoker is her colleague/love interest.  I enjoyed the sexual tension between the two of them.

The mystery is entertaining.  The lord of the castle gathers various people together to find out what had caused his new bride to suddenly disappear.

This was my first read on the Kindle Paperwhite.  The ability to look up words on the fly came in handy while reading this novel.  Not being familiar with some of the words did not hamper my enjoyment of this novel.  The Kindle Paperwhite has a Vocabulary Builder feature.  I’ll share part of the definitions of a few words here:

chat-e-laine

n. <DATED> a women in charge of a large house.  <SPECIAL USAGE> HISTORICAL a set of short chains attached to a women’s belt, used for carrying keys or other items.

<ORIGIN> mid 19th cent.: from French chatelain, from medieval latin castellanus

ret-i-cule

1 CHIEFLY HISTORICAL a woman’s small handbag, originally netted and typically having drawstring and decorate with embroidery or beading.

<ORIGIN> easy 18th cent.:from French reticule, from Latin reticulum.

vis-count

n. a British nobleman ranking above a baron and below an earl.

<ORIGIN>late Middle English: from Old French visconte, from medieval Latin vicecomes, vicecomit

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Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect

The Suspect by Fiona Barton is a fast paced mystery.

Two girls are missing.  They took off from England to go on a holiday in Thailand, before starting college.

Reporter Kate Waters quickly learns, while she is investigating the disappearance, that she has become the story as her son is somehow involved.

As the mystery unfolds, Barton explores the reactions that Kate and the mothers of the two girls have regarding their children.

I enjoyed THE SUSPECT.  I particularly liked the novel’s structure.  Each short chapter is designated from the point of view of a character or is a throwback to what actually happened.  I especially enjoyed the throwbacks and emails of one of the girls to her friend back home, learning what really happened while also following the investigation.

I reviewed Barton’s debut novel, THE WIDOW (read my review here).  Some of the characters are in both novels including Kate Waters (“The Reporter”) and DI Bob Sparkes (“The Detective”) .  I didn’t get a chance to read Barton’s second novel, THE CHILD (An NPR Best Book of the Year), but understand it also features the reporter Kate Waters.

First Paragraph

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Review: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

once upon a river

Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield begins, (circa 1887) at the Swan at Radcot, a pub along the Thames River where folks regularly gather to drink and tell stories.  One night something considered impossible occurs at the pub.

“For another hour they talked.  Every detail of the day’s events were gone over, the facts were weighed and combined, quantities of surmising, eavesdropping, and supposition were stirred in for flavor, and a good sprinkling of rumor was added like yeast to make it rise.” – Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield  – p. 158

Each chapter in the novel becomes almost a story in itself.  I enjoyed the novel, but took breaks between chapters as the writing was intricate and I needed to take extra time to let the chapters settle in my mind.  I did indeed enjoy each chapter and looked forward to picking up the book for the next epesode as I knew I would be in for a treat.

As the novel continues and we learn about the lives of people along the river,  various tangents begin to relate to one another, the suspense builds and I did not want to put the book down.

The author asks us to suspend disbelief.  If a thing is impossible, does that mean it didn’t happen?

“just ’cause a thing’s impossible don’t mean it can’t happen.” – p. 301

Once Upon A River checked off some of the things I especially like.  It is historical fiction and the characters are fully developed.

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Book Brief and Giveaway! The Broken Girls

the broken girls

I loved, loved, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James .  Like any good ghost story, the secrets are slowly revealed.  So, I wont say too much.

Through the years, girls in an all-girl boarding school pass messages via the textbook margins about a ghost named Mary Hand.

One example:

Mary Hand, Mary Hand, dead and buried under land.  She’ll say she wants to be your friend.  Do not let her in again!

As the story progresses we learn more.   The novel skips from the present to the past seamlessly.  It is rich with story, characters, eloquence and suspense.

The publisher, Berkley, has generously offered a free copy of The Broken Girls by Simone St. James via a giveaway (entry form is below)  on Posting For Now.

The Broken Girls would make a great movie! Continue reading “Book Brief and Giveaway! The Broken Girls”

Review: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

the promis between us

Mental illness is a tough topic to discuss.  Barbra Claypole White, in  The Promise Between Us, does an excellent job giving us insight into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) through an entertaining story about a mother (Katie) and daughter (Maisie) who both have OCD.

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  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 16, 2018)

Forms of OCD are different, yet similar.  Katie uses mantras to face down the relentless, unwanted, thoughts in her head.  One of her mantras, repeated often, is:

“A thought is just a thought.  It has no power.”

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Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Bear Town

I was glad to read my book club’s selection, Beartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland.

So many people, recently, have been talking about “A Man Called Ove” and “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel.”  However, I have not, until now, had the chance to read/listen to one of this author’s novels.

(Purchase from Amazon)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

Beartown is a story about a small town, who’s existence revolves around ice hockey. The junior team, this particular year, is headed for the semi-finals with a good chance at winning the finals.

In essence we see, when bad things happen and controversy strikes, the heavily ingrained ‘ice-hockey’ culture affects the overall views and culture of the town-folk.  People begin to take sides.

It seems the entire town is explored from players to coaches, teachers, parents, students, local factory workers, the local pub owner, hockey club board members, sponsors …  We learn who is on the right side and who is on the wrong side.

One observation (not a complaint) is that the author, seems to be vested in all of his characters as, in addition to the main story, many tidbits of information about the various character’s past, present and futures are included.  The over development of characters works well in this small-town story.

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Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

little fires everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
(Purchase)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 12, 2017

My Review ( 5 Stars: Loved it!)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a well written, well thought out story.  The first half is devoted to laying ground work and building characters, the second half is to the engrossing plot.

Set in the time period around 1980, I’ve tagged this novel as Historical Fiction as it describes the times of that period (making me feel old).  I remember the history and time period well.

I read/listened to Little Fires Everywhere in starts and stops and found it was no problem picking up where I left off and no problem enjoy each and every chapter.  The narrator, Jennifer Lim, did an excellent job.

At the heart of this story are two families, at different sides of the spectrum, one very domestic and middle-class with a mother, father, and four children and the other a mother and daughter who are nomads.  The children are adolescents.  The focus of the novel is the mother/child relationship.  I am amazed at the number of perspective Ng manages to bring into this story.

While I have marked this novel as Historical Fiction, the 1980s were not too long ago and the issues at the heart of this novel have not changed much.

In Ng’s previous, debut, novel, Everything I Never Told You, family dynamics and disconnects were central to the story.  So far, this is common theme in her work.

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Book Brief: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Pope Joan

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 19 hours and 24 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 24, 2009

Barbara Rosenblat (Narrator)

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it)

I listened to Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.  It is about a women, in the 9th century who becomes the Pope.  It is historical fiction that has gotten high marks, but I struggled getting started with it.  However, even though it has difficult vocabulary and even many words in Latin, I enjoyed the story and wondered how much of it is based on believed truths.  Almost toward the end, I was compelled to look up information about this pope and got a clue to how the story ended.

At the center of this novel is the stark contrast between men and women’s places in society.

The narrator had a gruff voice and I wasn’t sure I liked it.  However, she did represent the various character’s voices distinctly which helped in following the narration.

There is a movie based on this novel, that got less than stellar marks.

Movie Trailer

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Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Dress

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is fairly predictable, but still enjoyable.  It is a ‘Christian’ based novel.  I found the religious undertones to be distracting.  I think the story would have stood better on its own without some of the ‘preaching’.

Instead of magic, there is divine intervention that takes place with a wedding dress sewn with gold thread that is beautiful, timeless and fits every bride who wears it (without alterations).

 

(purchase from amazon)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Oasis Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 13, 2012

I tagged this review with Romance and Light Reads. This novel is not too complicated. It was a pleasant read I think, especially because of its predictability.

There is some meat to the novel as it switches between present day Birmingham Alabama,  and 1912.  I always like going back in time.  The examination of relationships leading to marriage is also entertaining.

I enjoyed the southern setting.  The narrator, Eleni Pappageorge, does a good job with the southern accent and representing both male and female characters.

So, if you like romance, light reading and can take a little preaching to, this would be a novel to enjoy.

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Book Brief: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

The Mountain Between Us

I listened to the audio version of The Mountain Between Us: A Novel by Charles Martin.

Update: 12/23/2017 – I heard the movie does not resemble the book/audiobook.  Which is too bad, because the book was terrific!

Book Brief (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I wont go into too much detail in this brief.  I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.

While stranded in the middle of nowhere, in a frozen, desolate mountain range, between Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado, an extraordinary hero, Dr. Ed Payne  takes one step at a time to survive.

On the surface The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival.  On a deeper level it is about the bonds that tie people together.

The author Charles Martin explores what it means to be truly in love.

I easily pictured the wilderness and enjoyed each moment of the story.  I felt it was cleverly written and well done.

I’ll just say the ending brought a few tears to my eyes.

 

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What Others Have To Say

This was a great love story. A real one. Not cheesy at all. – Debbie Stone

It’s a book that is both plot driven and also manages to get inside people’s emotional heads. – Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

Book Review: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 12 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 12, 2016
(purchase from amazon)

My Name Is Lucy Barton was an interesting read (listen) for a day.

Familial relationships can be complicated.  In My Name Is Lucy Barton, Lucy looks back at a time when her mother, after not seeing her in years, visits with her during her stay in the hospital.

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Book Review: My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

My Notorious Life

My Notorious Life: A Novel by Kate Manning

Terry Donnelly (Narrator), Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 19 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible Release Date: September 10, 2013

My Review (5 Stars – Loved it!)

My Notorious Life: A Novel by Kate Manning is historical fiction and takes place mainly during the second half of the nineteenth century in New York City.  The protagonist, Axie Muldoon, daughter of Irish Immigrants, becomes an orphan and then becomes the notorious Madam X, searched out for her superior mid-wife skills as well as treatment for other female troubles.

This is a long novel (approximately 20 hrs.); however, I breezed right through it.  I must admit, having my own Irish ancestry, grandparents arriving in NYC in the early twentieth century, I was automatically fond of Axie.  She tells her story in the most interesting and fun way, even though the main topics are very serious.

I am also fond of Historical Fiction.  The author, Kate Manning, does a suburb job in representing this era.  Women of all classes come to Axie for help under their dire circumstances.  Axie does not turn them away, despite the peril she places herself in.  I doubt I will ever forget Axie.

Whatever side of women’s issues you find yourself on, I think you will enjoy this novel.

I highly recommend the audio version of this novel.  Axie has an Irish/New York accent and way of speaking which adds to the enjoyment of this novel.

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What Others Are Saying

“Axie’s profane Irish brogue is vividly recreated with virtually no anachronistic slips, and though a certain degree of polemical crusading is unavoidable given Axie’s proclivities, her voice never fails to entertain. – Kirkus Review

“Kate Manning has written a compelling novel about the plight of women and reproductive rights, and of course, the battle over these issues continues today. Highly recommended!” – Book of Secrets

Video (From The Author’s Website)