The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin #BookReview

Memory

The most important things in life . . . are not things at all.

Nora is fleeing London for her childhood home in Dublin after her heart is suddenly torn apart. Back home, she learns she has inherited all of her grandmother’s worldly belongings – a feather shrug, a Tiffany mirror, a gold locket, and many more precious things besides.

With no means of keeping them, and not able to bear auctioning everything off, Nora decides to open The Memory Shop so each object is matched to a perfect new owner.

Soon Nora begins transforming the lives of those around her through the items she pairs them with, helping them find new happiness in unexpected ways. Now if she can only let go of her own past, she might just surprise herself . . .

An uplifting novel set in a charming Irish community, about love, family and finding your way.

My Review

There is something about Irish authors; concerns of the heart are paramount and despite sadness and mistreatment, goodness will out.  I was drawn to this book by the concept of inherited treasures being sold to the most appropriate new owner.

At first the novel reads like a set of short stories about different characters, such as widower Will and his unhappy daughter, or Caroline whose marriage is disintegrating, but gradually they link back to Nora, the heroine, who is determined to put her boyfriend’s betrayal behind her while she earns money for her unhappy mother, Alann.  Finding notes from her grandmother hidden among the precious items, she hopes to discover more about the estrangement between her mother and grandmother.

There are several tales of faithless, promiscuous men and yet there are also feel-good solutions for some of the couples.  The local community in this part of Dublin are, in the spirit of a popular film, almost too good to be true, but that did not diminish my pleasure in reading the book. Finally, the tragic revelation about Nora’s grandmother rooted this charming tale in reality.

The Memory Shop on Amazon UK

Ella Griffin

E Griffin

Ella Griffin was born in Dublin. She was an award-winning advertising copywriter before she took the leap into fiction. She has written four novels since 2011. She loves making readers laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page.) Ella lives with her husband in County Wicklow in Ireland.

You can find Ella at www.ellagriffin.com, Facebook/EllaGriffinAuthor and @EllaGriffin1

 

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Being a Beta Reader & receiving ARCs #FridayReads #AmReading

Jessie

I’m feeling like a real book reviewer this week as I’m a Beta reader for non-fiction author, Barbara J Starmans’ first fiction book. Barbara is responsible for the fascinating Social Historian website https://www.thesocialhistorian.com/ and she is now writing a novel based on the story of her great-grandmother.

Clockmaker

I’ve also received 2 ARC books.  The first, being delivered in instalments, is “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Australian author, Kate Morton, whose time-shift novels I always enjoy. It will be published on September 20th.  I am reading this on my iPad via The Pigeonhole which includes comments from current readers. I found this very distracting so have deleted that feature!

Gift Horse Cover MEDIUM WEB

The other ARC is by Jan Ruth, one of my favourite authors.   Called “Gift Horse,” it is about a real horse but also about the eponymous proverb and will be published in October. I am looking forward to reviewing both these books.

 

 

White Nights (Shetland Book 2) by Ann Cleeves #amreading

White Nights

When Shetland detective Jimmy Perez finds a body in a hut used by fishermen it seems to be a straightforward case of suicide. He recognizes the victim – a stranger with amnesia who had disrupted a local party the night before his death.

Yet this is no desperate act of anguish, but the work of a cold and calculating killer. As Perez investigates, he finds himself mired in the hidden secrets of the small Biddista community. Then another body is found.

Perez knows he must break the cycle before another death occurs. But this is a crazy time of year when night blurs into day and nothing is quite as it seems.

My Review

In contrast to the harsh winter conditions of the first Shetland Book, White Nights is set in the relentless light and birdsong of midsummer when tourists swarm off the ferries and cruise ships, but most of the events occur in a tiny remote community where six young people grew up together. At first there is very little concern about the death of an outsider but once one of their own is murdered, fear and suspicion is rife.
Once again Liverpudlian DCI Roy Taylor has arrived from Inverness to take over the case, but he and Jimmy Perez have grudging respect for each other, allowing Jimmy to quietly talk to Kenny, who found the body, and others who might have seen something that evening. Jimmy’s budding relationship with Fran Hunter is at the early stages so the fact that the murder is linked to the art exhibition Fran has shared with flamboyant artist, Bella Sinclair, worries him.
There are wonderful descriptions of the changing light on the countryside, of the myriad of birds and about the gathering of the sheep for shearing. Very gradually we come to know more about Bella’s past and her affection for her nephew Roddy, a talented musician. Relationships between the other residents of Biddista are examined both by Perez and the reader, while amusing comments are made about the nosy observations of author, Peter Wilding, looking out of his window as he sits writing his latest novel.
The plot darkens as new discoveries are made in a clifftop chasm and Jimmy has to face his vertigo. In a care home, Willy, an old sailor, may hold the key to the mystery but he is lost in the realms of Alzheimer so the links with the outside world must be followed by Taylor and Perez. Another engaging read about passions and greed.

White Nights can be purchased from Amazon UK

My review of Raven Black, the first Shetland book is here

Fear and Phantoms by Carol Hedges #NewRelease #RBRT #BookReview

Hedges CJ

I always look forward to another volume in Carol Hedges’ Victorian mystery series.  Once again, she has created an effective picture of the grime and poverty of 1860s London, filled with vivid characters, good, evil, peculiar and captivating.  In Fear & Phantoms, we face the very real horror of murder and fraud as well as a mysterious vision of the Madonna in the tunnel of the Metropolitan Underground railway.

An intelligent young woman, Helena Trigg, who works as a book-keeper, is baffled when her twin brother, Lambert, a senior bank clerk, disappears and comes under suspicion of fraud.  Luckily, she seeks help from reliable Detective Inspector Stride and kindly Inspector Greig, who wonder if there might be a connection to their current murder investigation. But nothing is that simple.  With wit and humour intermingled with suspense, Carol Hedges leads us through the parallel plot strands.

My favourite characters in this novel are the delightful journalist and author Lucy Landseer and the hard-working, irrepressible young cleaner, Pin.  Lucy is ahead of her time, determined to have a successful career, studying to improve her mind and certainly not intending to be dependent on a man. Pin is poor and downtrodden, but she takes care of “the boy, Muggly,” who has no-one else, and she will not tolerate unfairness or cruelty.  Both these young ladies participate actively in solving the mysteries.

There are so many delicious titbits to discover within this novel, such as names like the Hon. Tom Scallywagg MP and a creepy landlord called Mr Mutesius.  A must within a Victorian novel is a detailed description of the many exhibits in the taxidermists where we recoil in horror at the shelves, “of glass cases, full of birds and beasts in a variety of strange and unlikely poses,” but Pin loves to talk affectionately to “the tiny kittens in frilled bibs and tuckers… having a tea-party in their minute prison.”

This exciting tale can easily be read as a stand-alone or as an introduction to the wonderful series but those of you already familiar with thee Victorian murder mystery books will find all their expectations well-rewarded.

To buy Fear and Phantoms in the UK

To read my review of Diamonds & Dust, the first story about The Victorian Detectives

 

Finders, Not Keepers by D E Haggerty #RBRT #BookReview

Book 1 of the Not So Reluctant Detective series

Finders not Keepers

Finders, Not Keepers is a cosy mystery, with a romantic thread, humour and suspense.  Our heroine, Terri, is a 42-year-old school Librarian with a madcap friend, Melanie and a rather dishy younger neighbour, Ryder.  Recovering from the collapse of her marriage to Alan, Terri decides to clear the attic of the last of his belongings.  While there she discovers a valuable diamond pendant, so needs to contact the previous house owner.  She is astonished to find out that Jessica, who had lived there two years ago, had been murdered, so asks Ryder, a PI, to help her find Jessica’s next of kin.

Terri is a believable character, of substance. She has a successful career but is struggling to afford the mortgage on her much-loved house.  The breakup of her marriage has sapped her confidence, but she is a caring woman who spends her weekends helping charities.  The fact that Ryder is attracted to her, fills her with amazement and she is cautious about responding to someone who might want to control her, as Alan had.  Meanwhile, Terri constantly puts herself into dangerous situations, trying to find the right place for Jessica’s bequest as well as perhaps revealing her murderer.

What I particularly enjoyed in this book is the humour. As a former school librarian myself, I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, especially, “A cardigan is a librarian’s lab coat.”  Melanie’s predilection of calling Ryder, “hot neighbour guy,” is irritating but sums up her character so well.  I shall certainly be seeking out more entertaining cosy mysteries by D E Haggerty.

Finders, Not Keepers is available on Amazon UK

Haggerty

D E Haggerty

D.E. Haggerty was born and raised in Wisconsin but thinks she’s a European. While spending her senior year of high school in Germany, she developed a wicked case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. After high school, she returned to the U.S. to attend college – ending up with a bachelor’s degree in History at the tender age of twenty while still managing to spend time bouncing back and forth to Europe during her vacations. Unable to find a job after college and still suffering from wanderlust, she joined the U.S. Army as a Military Policewoman for five years. While stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, she met her future husband, a flying Dutchman. After earning her freedom from the Army, she went off to law school. She finished the required curriculum but jumped ship and joined her flying Dutchman in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. In Holland, she became a commercial lawyer specialized in IT for over a decade. During a six-month break from the law, she wrote her first book, Unforeseen Consequences. Although she finished the novel, she hid the manuscript in the attic and went back to the law. When she could no longer live in the lawyering world, she upped stakes and moved to Germany to start a B&B. Three years after starting the B&B, she got the itch to try something new yet again and pulled the manuscript for Unforeseen Consequences out of the attic. After publishing the book, she figured she may have finally found what she wanted to do with her life and went on to write Buried Appearances. When her husband found a job opportunity in Istanbul, she couldn’t pack fast enough. She spent more than two years in Istanbul furiously writing and learning everything she could about the publishing world. When the pull to return to her adopted home became too much, she upped stakes and moved to The Hague where she’s currently working on her next book. Finders, Not Keepers is her thirteenth book.

The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 1) by Mimi Matthews #NewRelease #RBRT #BookReview

 

The-Matrimonial-Advertisement-Web-Medium-with-Quote-e1530680720709

 

Helena Reynolds needs sanctuary and, even more than that, a protector. She has travelled to Greyfriar’s Abbey, a remote estate in Devon, to enter into a marriage contract with a stranger. Captain Justin Thornhill is a brave, attractive man, so why is he advertising for a bride? Tortured in India during the mutiny at Cawnpore, he bears scars, and a scarred personality. He needs a business arrangement which will provide contentment and household management, but why has this beautiful, refined lady offered to marry him? They both conceal secrets which may drive them apart. Helena has a vulnerability which makes Justin protective and soon the couple become close, despite fate dictating that they have no future together.

This is an irresistible romance with the added frisson of gothic fear. At a time in Victorian Britain when a woman belonged entirely to her father, guardian or husband, could Helena ever be free to love and live as she wishes? Mimi’s writing style is engaging, and we are plunged immediately into Helena’s predicament. Secrets are gradually revealed, adding depth to our understanding of the main characters. This is Miss Matthews’ best book so far and it is only the first in a new series!

To buy The Matrimonial Advertisement in the UK

To read my review of The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews

Mimi

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries and A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty. She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law. Her scrupulously cited articles have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine.

Mimi’s writing and research have been referenced in such diverse web and print publications as Smithsonian MagazineThe Paris Review, The Journal of Civil War MedicineApartment Therapy, and USA Today’s Happy-Ever-After blog. Her work is frequently used in high school and college classrooms as part of an English or History curriculum.

When not writing historical non-fiction, Mimi authors exquisitely proper Victorian romance novels with dark, brooding heroes and intelligent, pragmatic heroines. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, and English Historical Fiction Authors. Her debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter was released in September 2017.

In her other life, Mimi is an attorney with both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She resides in California with her family—which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

https://www.mimimatthews.com/

Gold Plated by Christine Campbell #FridayReads #RBRT

Gold plated

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating their Golden Wedding with a grand party at the local Golf Club.  Aided by their only daughter Heather, Rosanna is making sure that everything is perfect including baking a delicious cake and buying Paul the ideal gift, but have all their years together been so perfect?

The clock is turned back to 1964 when Rosanna started at Art college and Paul was her young, charismatic tutor.  Lacking confidence in herself, she was astonished that he chose her as his “secret” girlfriend, but against all odds, they have now been married for 50 years.  Abandoning her earlier artistic ambitions, Rosanna has looked after their lovely home while Paul continued his successful teaching career.

Christine Campbell is skilled at putting us inside Rosanna’s head.  We begin to understand her calm, quiet personality and her loyal, loving nature.  We can see that Paul takes her for granted but they seem to have a happy marriage.  But at the party everything changes in a dramatic way. Secrets are revealed, treachery exposed, and Rosanna’s life is in tatters.

This is a story, with which we can all identify in some way.  It is sadly true that many women, and men, can suddenly find themselves alone as old age approaches and dealing with the collapse of all they believed in can be catastrophic. But this is not a sad story, there is a positive message that life is what we make of it and Rosanna discovers new personal qualities of independence and self-reliance as well as rekindling her creativity.

Personally, I would have preferred the story to have been written in the past tense, especially for the scenes from the past, but that is probably just my particular bête-noire!  The detailed involvement in Rosanna’s rollercoasting emotions and cleverly plotted, surprising events make this book a very rewarding read.

Gold Plated is available on Amazon UK

Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell lives in a small village outside of Edinburgh with her husband, whatever assortment of children and grandchildren happen to be visiting at the time, and awaiting her first great-granddaughter. How exciting is that?

When she has a moment of peace, and is not distracted by the varied wildlife currently taking up residence in her garden and the field beyond, Christine writes novels or posts on her blog at cicampbellblog.wordpress.com as well as producing occasional videos about her writing on her Facebook page and YouTube.

Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories can be found on Facebook

My review of Searching for Summer by Christine Campbell