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

What Others Are Saying

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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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Review: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

My Review (4 Stars – Liked it a lot!)

 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours and 6 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: March 22, 2016

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was not the humorous and light read I was expecting.  It was quite the opposite.

From Amazon

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People

“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.”— New York Times Book Review

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”

I’m sorry, I did not see much humor in The Nest.  This novel is much more serious.

Each chapter starts out with the focus on a particular character’s lives/issues or people in their lives.  The story progresses this way which I thought was enjoyable.

Four siblings were to inherit a lot of money that they where counting on when the youngest reached 40.  They called this ‘The Nest’.  However, the older son got into some trouble and his mother bailed him out with most of ‘The Nest’.

Each of the siblings have different lives: two with life partners, one with a husband and set of twins, and one who roamed from women to women.

It felt like there were two or more interesting, underdeveloped separate novels in this story.  However, it was overall an entertaining read.

This is the author’s debut novel and I would definitely consider reading more by her as she writes well.  The characters and their issues felt very real (nothing sugar coated) and Sweeney presented them well.

Purchase From Amazon

What Others Are Saying

“I love that The Nest is a debut novel by a 55 year old woman AND she got a $1 million advance!” – Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves

The Nest  was an enjoyable beach/vacation read and I whole-heartedly recommend it for a weekend diversion.” – JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

“The story weaves the past and the present together in such a way that I felt as though the characters were people I might meet. Even the supporting characters were fleshed out, enriching the tapestry that made each of their lives real.” – Laurel-Rain

““The book is very much about the thing that everyone inherits, which is a place in a family narrative,” Sweeney says.” – A Conversation With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — Kirkus Reviews

Book Trailer Link

About The Author (From the author’s website)

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and optioned for film by Amazon Studios with Sweeney writing the adaptation. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. The Nest is her first novel.”

Review: Lust For Life by Irving Stone

 by Irving Stone

My Review (4 Stars ~ Liked it a lot!)

If you are curious about the famous man who created famous art work, Vincent Van Gogh, then this book is for you.  The reason I rated it four stars instead of five is that it seemed a little too long.  Other than that, it was very insightful and entertaining.  This is historical fiction largely based on facts.  The novel was initially published in 1934.

The author, Irving Stone, based his story on Vincent’s letters written to his bother Theo.  Theo was Vincent’s benefactor and supported him throughout his life.

Vincent wrote Theo over 600 letters during his short lifespan.

In the novel, it is mentioned that Van Gogh wanted to know his subjects more so that he could better paint them.  Knowing more about Van Gogh helps to better understand his art.  I didn’t know much about Van Gogh and feel now, after reading Lust For Life, I can understand his art work much better.

The narrator kept my interest, however he used the same type of voice for several of the different female characters.  The time periods were distinct, so it really didn’t matter much.

 

Read More or Purchase from Amazon
Read More (Currently out of print.)

I wanted to see some of the works described in the  novel and so purchased the hard copy – (coffee table book) – Vincent by Himself: A Selection of Van Gogh’s Paintings and Drawings Together with Extracts from His Letters.  I highly recommend this book, if you can find it, or one like it, as a companion to Lust For Life.

What have you been reading lately?

Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

 

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Audiobook narrated by Joshilyn Jackson

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 53 minutes
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 17, 2012

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is a quirkyclever novel.  It is a slightly exaggerated story about a family that is not, ‘normal’.  Maybe I should say each member is ‘special’.  It’s a story about fitting in or not fitting in, change, and adaptation.

Joshilyn Jackson (who is a bestselling author in her own right) did a good job narrating this novel.

I’d like to say that Netzer’s cadence in this story is particularly interesting.  This may also be a credit to narrator, Jackson.

Listen

What Others Are Saying

“Netzer’s debut, about a heavily pregnant woman left to care for her dying mother and autistic son while her Nobel-winning husband travels to the moon, takes the literary concept of charmingly quirky characters to a new level.” – KirkusReview

“A quirky, wonderful story with unique, well-developed and likeable characters. There is joy, sadness and occasional laugh-out-loud humor.” – Leslie (Under My Apple Tree)

Click on Image to Read More or Purchase from Amazon

 

Review: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

AudioBook (Downloaded from my local library.)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio, 2014

Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Length: 9 hr.s and 3 min.

Release Date: 10-07-14

Being Mortal is an in-depth look at our views about aging and dying.

The author Atul Gawande is sometimes analytical and philosophical while at the same time he discusses our mindsets about how we face our own mortality.  The real life and death stories he describes are insightful.

I had put off reading this book because of the heavy nature of the the subject, but am glad I finally listened to it.

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Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Audio

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Narrator: January LaVoy

Sept 1, 2015

Length: 14 hr 6 min

Category: Mystery

Provider:Penguin Audio

Presented by Audible

I won a signed hardcover copy of this book from T @ Traveling With T.  I’d like to thank the author, Hester Young and T.

The Gates of Evangeline is also one of SheReads Books of Winter 2016.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

The Gates of Evangeline is a thoughtful and entertaining debut novel by Hester Young.

The protagonist of this novel, Charolette (Charlie) Cates has visions.  They began after the tragic death of her four year old son.  The visions are from children needing help.  That is what draws her to a  wealthy family’s home, Evangeline, in Louisiana.

Religious and spiritual questions are raised in this novel.  It is a mystery with drama, twists and turns.  There is also romance.  Young does a great job in building her characters and presenting the Louisiana setting.

Continue reading “Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young”

Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

 

No One Knows (A thriller) by J.T. Ellison

Gallery Books, March 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

No One Knows, a thriller, is the first novel I’ve read by the New York Times Bestselling author, J.T. Ellison.  Her writing style is easy to read.  I found myself quickly caught up in this twisted tale.

As the author mentions in her acknowledgements, this novel has a ‘dark side’.  The flawed characters and their shaded backstories are well developed.

Fair-warning, some parts of this novel might be considered x-rated.

Just a brief intro to the plot:

Aubrey Hamilton’s husband Josh, missing for five years, is declared legally dead by the state of Tennessee.

Aubrey is emotionally suffering.  She is missing Josh and, not knowing what happened to him, struggles to cope.

Josh’s mother, Daisy, who always despised Aubrey, does not make life any easier for her.

Ok, so that’s all I’m going to say about the story-line.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not read it yet.

Continue reading “Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison”

Review: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

 

Flight of Dreams: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon

Double Day a Division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

In Flight of Dreams, author, Ariel Lawhon puts us on the Hindenburg, from it’s majestical take off to it’s disastrous landing.
Lawhon presents a suspenseful fictional account, character driven, that shows us the luxury flight was all but ‘uneventful.’

The flight from Germany to New Jersey took approximately four days.  In Flight of Dreams we count down these days.

It took awhile to get into this novel.  There are a variety of passenger stories that intertwine.  We are cleverly moved along in the story by chapters (sub-stories) of the characters, including, but not limited to, The Stewardess, The Journalist, The American, The Cabin Boy, and The Navigator.  By the conclusion, we gain a greater appreciation for the tragedy that occurred on that fateful day in May and the humanity that was lost.

I think many people, at least my age, have heard of the Hindenburg tragedy.  Before starting this fictional account,  I wanted to see how people actually traveled in the Hindenburg, and learn a little more about the facts.  So, I checked the Internet and found some interesting photos and information, which gained more meaning after reading this novel.  Here are a couple of links:

Airships.net: A Dirigible and Zeppelin History Site: The Hindenburg’s Interior: Passenger Decks

Hindenburg disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in Manchester TownshipNew Jersey, United States. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen). One worker on the ground was also killed, making a total of 36 fatalities. – Hindenburg disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster

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Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton

New American Library an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Release Date: February 16, 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

In her debut novel, The Widow, the author, Fiona Barton, skillfully presents a detective story.

The case is that a two year old child goes missing from her front lawn.
Among the main characters are Bob Sparks (a detective),  Glen Taylor (a suspect who is linked to child pornography),  Jean Taylor (the suspect’s widow), and Kate Waters (a reporter ).  The case was not solved before the suspect died.  DI Sparks just can’t let go of this.  The main suspect is dead and the little girl has not been found.

I enjoyed the setting, which I believe is in the UK.  I think the characterizations might be slightly different than if set in America.  A small example might be that often characters have tea.  Here in America, I think it might be coffee.  John O’Connell in “The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, from The Guardian might phrase this notion better.

“My one reservation is Jean’s odd voice, which feels too 1950s-prim – an upper-middle-class person’s slightly dated idea of how lower-middle-class people speak. But then, Glen and Jean are nothing if not strange, so perhaps that extends to their domestic idiolect.” – John O’Connell (“The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, The Guardian)

However, I felt, the author’s writing style was very engaging.

The interesting and different slant on this story is that the focus is on the suspect’s widow.  Her life was complicated by her husband.  After her husband dies, her life is complicated by the investigators and the reporters.  The reporter, Kate Waters is successful with her  approach toward getting interviews.

This novel has been compared to Gone Girl.  While the widow is introspective as the wife was in Gone Girl, the novel did not have that sudden, surprising, gripping, twist that I was anticipating.

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Review: The Dance Begins by Diane Chamberlain

The Dance Begins by Diane Chamberlain

St. Martin’s Press, August 2015

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

The Dance Begins by Diane Chamberlain is a short story prequel to her novel: Pretending to Dance.  It is less than 60 minutes long.  I enjoyed reading this short story while waiting for two appointments during a single day.  It made for a pleasant day.

I assume we are introduced to some of the characters in Pretending to Dance:  Graham who has multiple sclerosis, his six year-old daughter Molly, his wife Nora,  some others in his extended family and there are hints about another character Amalia who Graham is very close to.

The Dance Begins begins with Graham’s dream to dance with his daughter.  Even though this story is short, I felt the ending completed the story well. (Kindle or Nook version currently available for $0.99.)

First Paragraph

“Morrison Ridge, North Carolina

1982

In the dream, he danced with his six-year-old daughter.  Her small bare feet were on his shoes, the toes curled as she gripped him like a little monkey, and he held her hands.  Her dark hair was loose, free of its braids, and she looked up at him with clear blue eyes.  No glasses.  She giggled as he swept her around the living room to Stevie Nicks singing “Stop Draggin’ my Heart Around.”  Even with her feet on his, he moved fluidly, easily.  He was very nearly flying around the room.  It astonished him how easily he moved.  It was a relief.  But then he woke up.”

Other Reviews

I enjoyed The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain.  Below is a link to my review.

The Silent Sister

I became aware of Pretending To Dance, after reading Kathyrn’s great review @ Book Date.  I have it on my ‘To Read’ list.  Do you?

“Pretending to Dance is a heart wrenching, gut punching, emotionally engaging read.” – Kathryn @ Book Date