The Memories we Bury by H A Leuschel #BookTour #BookReview

Memories we bury

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

Lizzie Thomson seems to have everything. Having recently started her first job as a music teacher in Edinburgh she is thrilled to be moving into her lovely new home with her husband, Markus. But Lizzie hides the sadness of her upbringing which has caused her to feel inadequate.  Next door is Morag, a lonely widow who is estranged from her children.   In alternate chapters we read, in the first person, the innermost thoughts of each of these women.  But who is telling the truth?  Is Morag to blame for her angry daughter?  Is Lizzie being betrayed by her husband?

The whole story pivots on Lizzie’s unplanned pregnancy.  New husband, Markus is not ready to settle down to domesticity, but as Lizzie is an orphan, Morag is only too happy to step in as substitute Granny for new-born, Jamie.  As Lizzie’s close friends prove unreliable, she begins to rely on former midwife, Morag’s experience and help.  They become close, which Markus dislikes until Morag’s compliments convince him that she is a useful asset, dealing with his increasingly pathetic wife.

As both Lizzie and Morag gradually reveal to us the effect of bad parenting in their backgrounds, we see this reverberating in their present lives.  The worries of bringing up a first child are very familiar to any mother, but the complexity of Lizzie’s plight is gripping, compulsive reading.  Without revealing more of the plot, I highly recommend this psychological study of friendship and obsession.

The  Memories er Bury onAmazon UK

My review of My Sweet Friend  by H A Leuschel

The Runaway by Linda Huber #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Runaway

Bad things happen in threes – or so it seems to Nicola. The death of her mother-in-law coincides with husband Ed losing his job and daughter Kelly getting into trouble with the police. Time to abandon their London lifestyle and start again by the sea in far-away Cornwall.

 It should be the answer to everything – a new home, a new job for Ed and a smaller, more personal school for fifteen-year-old Kelly. But the teenager hates her new life, and it doesn’t take long before events spiral out of control and the second set of bad things starts for Nicola.

 Some secrets can’t be buried.

Or… can they?

At first they seem like any other family. Their contented life is disturbed by unemployment and teenage angst, but worse things can happen and do.  Nicola believes a new life in Cornwall, living in the old house on the cliff which husband Ed has inherited, will help them all, but Ed is not keen and teenage daughter, Kelly, rebels.

Although written in the third person we read the point of view of each of the three character in separate chapters.  Our empathy is with Nicola who will do anything for her daughter, but Kelly’s distress is understandable, and Ed is facing horrors from his childhood.  Soon life falls apart for all of them.  Meanwhile, next door, Dorothy, a grandmother to young Mia, is happy that her son Rob is making a new life with partner, Phoebe. Their life seems idyllic but soon they are filled with the same fear as Nicola.

This psychological thriller gradually builds up to a thrilling conclusion.  Will life ever be the same for the two families?  A thought provoking story questioning how much we know about other members of our family and how secrets cannot be hidden for ever.

The Runaway at Amazon UK

Different Class by Joanne Harris #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller

Different Class

I chose this book because I had enjoyed Gentlemen and Players many years ago and this sequel takes place a year later in the same location, St Oswald’s Grammar School. Roy Straitley, an old-fashioned Latin Master is teaching his 35th year at the school and he has no desire for any other life.  Nicknamed Quaz (Quasimodo) because of his resemblance to a gargoyle based in a classroom in the bell tower, his intellectual, laissez-faire approach and loyalty to a group of boys he calls his “Brodie  Boys,” has caused boys and staff to be divided between those who detest him and those who have genuine respect and affection for him.

Although current events take place in 2005, alternate chapters take us back to 1981 when a group of 3 boys who join Straitley’s class, fail to fit in.  Of the three, it is Johnny Harrington whom he most disliked. It is therefor a shock that the new Super Head brought in to sort out the school is the same Harrington.  Reading a secret diary written by one of the boys in 1981 we gradually discover horrific events which took place.

Despite the serious nature of the plot there is also delightful humour.  Having taught in a school from the 1980s till this century I empathise with Straitley’s resistance to the new ways of emails and “health and safety”.  He defines his teaching style as “benevolent neglect” and on the whole his pupils respond by acting responsibly.  However the past catches up in appalling consequences and only wit and comradeship can avoid disaster for the school, its staff and its pupils.

Different Class on Amazon UK

 

The Ashes of London (James Marwood & Cat Lovett, Book 1) by Andrew Taylor #BookReview

Ashes of London

A CITY IN FLAMES

London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral – stabbed in the neck, thumbs tied behind his back.

A WOMAN ON THE RUN

The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city’s devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman, who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.

A KILLER SEEKING REVENGE

When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster – and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose…

My Review

Six years after Charles II regained the throne for the Stuart family, London went up in flames.  No-one feels safe in an environment where former Protestants, government agents and hidden Catholics live cheek by jowl.  We arrive in the city as old St Paul’s burns down, surrounded by onlookers; and there we meet our two protagonists, James Marwood, son of an extremist Puritan and Cat Lovett, the daughter of a renegade Protestant. Marwood narrates the majority of the story, but we also follow Cat’s perils, in the third person, as she is manipulated by her untrustworthy uncle.

In a realistic adventure through the narrow streets and ruins of London we follow Marwood’s attempt to please more than one master, looking for a murderer, seeking Cat and trying to protect his elderly father.  Meanwhile Cat, doomed to suffer the fate of many women in the past, decides to escape her uncle’s home and hides out as a maidservant.  The tortuous plot completely involved me in the Royal court, the rebuilding of St Paul’s and the underbelly of 17th century society.  A thrilling, convincing tale.

Andrew Taylor

A Taylor

Andrew Taylor is a British crime and historical novelist, winner of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger (for lifelong excellence in the genre) and the triple winner of the Historical Dagger. He has published over 45 books.

They include the international bestseller, The American Boy (a Richard and Judy selection); the Roth Trilogy (filmed for TV as Fallen Angel); the Lydmouth detective series set in the 1950s; and The Anatomy of Ghosts, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

His most recent books are the Marwood and Lovett Restoration series. The Ashes of London was a Times/Waterstones number one bestseller. The sequels, The Fire Court, and The King’s Evil, have both been bestsellers. The fourth in the series, The Last Protector, will be published on 4 April 2020

The Ashes of London on Amazon UK

No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 1) by Pam Lecky #BookReview

No Stone

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

It is winter in 1886. Lucy Lawrence sits in her comfortable home in St John’s Wood with only Horace the cat as a companion. As so often, her husband Charlie is away.  Their marriage which started with her elopement from her Yorkshire home has lost the love and excitement of those early days, but Lucy is loyal and hopes one day that they will be blessed by a child.  But her world falls apart when a policeman takes her to a mortuary in Soho to identify the body of her husband who has been killed in an accident.  There she meets Phineas Stone, a tall distinguished private investigator, who tells the police that Charlie was the lead in his current case.

Soon, despite her misgivings, Lucy is entangled in those enquiries, since Charlie has fallen foul of a dangerous gang of thieves.  She wishes to clear his name, but she is unsure whether Mr Stone is her friend or not.  When a threatening visitor appears, she decides to return to her estranged family in Yorkshire, but this leads her into even more trouble, and she is forced to turn to Phineas for help.

Lucy Lawrence is an excellent heroine, brave and clever, she is determined to discover the truth about her husband’s part in the case of stolen gems and fraud and with the help of her enterprising maid, she goes under cover and solves the crime.  This is the first of a series and I am looking forward to Lucy’s next mystery when she travels to Egypt.

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era and early 20th century.  Awaiting the invention of time travel, she has to be content with writing about these periods instead.  Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion; was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.  In April 2018, she published a collection of all her short stories, entitled Past Imperfect. With settings as diverse as WW1 era Dublin and a lonely haunted lighthouse, romance, mystery and the supernatural await you.  Last month she published the first Lucy Lawson Mystery aptly named No Stone Unturned.

No Stone Unturned is available at Amazon UK

The Doll Maker (The Viper and the Urchin Book 4) by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #TuesdayBookBlog

Doll

Revolution in the streets.

A deadly weapon stolen.

A wardrobe too wide to fit up the stairs.

All is most definitely not well back in Damsport…

For Rory and her companion Longinus, this is an exciting time, a new beginning.  No longer is Rory a waif, a defiant pick-pocket given a place to sleep and guidance by the wise but eccentric assassin.   They are moving into a new home as equals. Rory believes she is paying her way, an independent young woman who helps the Marchioness when Damsport is under threat.  Longinus is in his element, decorating their new home stylishly and employing Tess, a maid, to take care of them.  But their happiness is soon disturbed when Rory discovers their friend Cruikshank, the skilled machinist, critically injured by brutes who have broken into her workshop.  A dangerous weapon containing a lethal explosive has been stolen and the whole city could be destroyed.

Rory must work with Varanguard, Raif, once more and this time she has come of age. She is prepared to recognise her feelings for the strong handsome young man. Together with Longinus they face terrifying events.  Rory participates in a thrilling duel on board Crazy Willy’s steamcoach and Longinus faces up to fears from his past when he enters the eerie rooms in Arthur’s Automaton Emporium.  He found,

“himself facing rows and rows of beady black eyes, all looking at him.  The eyes belonged to dolls. Rows and rows of dolls….

The doll’s eyes were as black and gleaming as beetle wings and so shiny they looked wet….

One had hair but no face so that its black eyes looked out from metal sockets above an articulated metal jaw, its joints held in place by vicious-looking screws.”

Will the Old Girl maintain her position as ruler of Damsport or will a popular rising, funded by bribery and lies, replace her with a corrupt, power-seeking aristocrat who only cares for himself?  Rory’s links to the underworld in the Rookery are essential if the city is to survive.

This is the best of all these exciting steampunk adventures.  The plot turns from one frightening situation to another problem which must be solved.  The characters the reader now knows so well, are courageous, loyal and enterprising and their personal development is believable and heartening.  A must read!

The Doll Maker on Amazon UK

 

#AtoZChallenge : J is for Jane Eyre #CharlotteBronte

Jane09042019

In my youth I was enthralled by Jane Eyre and when I read it as an adult, I appreciated its quality and why this classic story still speaks to us today.  Jane, who speaks to us in the first person, is an independent woman, despite her vulnerable position.  Published in 1847 under the pen name Currer Bell, this could be seen as a feminist manifesto. Jane is mistreated and abused, first by her aunt and then at Lowood Institution. She enters Thornfield Hall as a plain, poor governess calling Mr Rochester her Master, in all its connotations.  Finally, after running away from Thornfield in despair, she reaches Moor House where she flourishes and has the confidence to spurn the offer of marriage from St John Rivers, because she already knows the only love and passion in her life. This book has everything; social comment, Gothic horror, pathos and self-knowledge. As Jane says,

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustainable I am, the more I will respect myself.”

Letters from the Dead (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery Book 7)

Letters from the Dead

Several years ago, I read the first three books in Steve Robinson’s mystery series about American genealogist Jefferson Tayte.  Now I have taken up the seventh story in which Jefferson travels to Scotland to help client, Damian Sinclair, break through the brick wall concealing the identity of his four times great grandfather.  But this is not just about family history, there is a legend of a valuable ruby stolen in India which the whole family hope to discover.  At first Jefferson is greatly impressed by the magnificent stately home where Sinclair lives with his elderly retainer, Murray, but within the walls he finds shabby rooms and unsafe floorboards.

The parts I most enjoyed were the letters of Jane Hardwick which began in 1822 as she returned to India, a widow and companion to a friend joining her husband in Jaipur.  Jane is a warm, caring woman who tries to look after teenage Arabella and her unhappy mother as their story gradually unfolds.  While Jefferson explores Sinclair’s bloodline, new letters from Jane appear mentioning the legendary gemstone. But he becomes increasingly aware of danger, as one by one, members of Sinclair’s family are murdered.

This book easily stands alone as a thrilling story of love, greed and treachery.  There are many red-herrings and I did not guess the outcome either in the 1820s or in the present-day denouement.  Highly recommended for anyone, not just those who love genealogy.

Letters from the Dead can be purchased on Amazon UK

Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson drew upon his own family history for inspiration when he imagined the life and quest of his genealogist-hero, Jefferson Tayte. The talented London-based crime writer, who was first published at age 16, always wondered about his own maternal grandfather–“He was an American GI billeted in England during the Second World War,” Robinson says. “A few years after the war ended he went back to America, leaving a young family behind and, to my knowledge, no further contact was made. I traced him to Los Angeles through his 1943 enlistment record and discovered that he was born in Arkansas . . .” Robinson cites crime writing and genealogy as ardent hobbies–a passion that is readily apparent in his work. He can be contacted via his website www.steve-robinson.me or his blog at www.ancestryauthor.blogspot.com.

The Lewis Man: Book Two of the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May #BookReview

Lewis Man

 

 AN INGENIOUS CRIME THRILLER ABOUT MEMORY AND MURDER.

 
A MAN WITH NO NAME
An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer.
A MAN WITH NO MEMORY
But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child.

A MAN WITH NO CHOICE

When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

 

This second volume in the Lewis Chronicle can easily be read in isolation. We soon become well acquainted with Fin MacLeod who after personal tragedy has left his job as an Edinburgh police Inspector to return to his birthplace on the Isle of Lewis. Sleeping in a tent is not ideal in an inclement climate, but Fin intends to restore his old family home while building a relationship with the teenage son, Fionnlagh, whom he only discovered 9 months earlier. Meanwhile the local police have unearthed a “peat man” hidden in the bog which may not be as ancient as it appears.

What makes this story unique, is that we can enter the mind of Fionnlagh’s grandfather, Tormod MacDonald, as he rapidly descends into the fog of dementia. Thus, he is our unreliable witness to events many years earlier. He takes us into the realm of Catholic orphans in the 1940s and 50s. In a less formal way than the British Home Children sent to Canada and Australia, these boys and girls were labelled and put on ferries to the Hebrides where they would live and work for subsistence farmers.

Fin investigates Tormod’s background in an attempt to discover the link between him and the body in the peat bog. He travels south giving the reader superb descriptions of the scenery and geography of the islands and with a touch of serendipity makes the link, but in so doing he brings danger to his extended family. There is drama, pathos and a real understanding of complex family structures. Another superb book by Peter May.

The Lewis Man on Amazon UK

 

The Slave City: Book 3 of The Viper and the Urchin series by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #SteamPunk #TuesdayBookBlog

 A complicated mission.
A team of misfits that just don’t get along.
What could possibly go wrong?

slave city

Longinus
“Everything about Longinus was conspicuous, from the way he spoke to the way he dressed. He stuck out like a whore in a convent, with his teal silk shirt, burnt-orange trousers and hat with an elaborate teal-and-orange feather arrangement. He wore his hair almost down to his shoulders and it always looked as though he had just stepped out of the barber’s. With his thin moustache and elegant, jewel-encrusted sword at his hip, he looked as though he belonged in a bygone era.”

Rory
“She was so slight that she looked as though a breath of wind might knock her over. She had put some weight on since her days as a scrawny street urchin, but she didn’t seem to get any bigger. Her small frame looked all the smaller for the masses of hair that dwarfed her. It was matted and clumped in thick segments more like rope than hair, trailing down her back. But Rory’s eyes were blue. Damsians were a dark people- dark of skin, dark of eye and black of hair. She had the dark skin of a Damsian, and at a glance, she could pass for one. But her blue eyes marked her out as having foreign blood too.”

My Review

I was excited to hear of a new book in the story of former street urchin, Rory and her friend, Longinus the assassin. This time they leave Damsport to travel with Cruikshank, the Machinist, who has been sent on a covert mission to the city of Azyr. Believing they will help Raheeme, a Reformist, to bring slavery to an end and provide water for the poorest of the city, they set out on the smuggling ship of Adelma, a massive, powerful woman they will be glad to have on their side. But they soon discover they are pawns in a power struggle in a hot, dangerous city and Rory is glad to have brave Varanguard, Rafe, accompanying them, even though her feelings for him are still complicated.

The larger than life characters in the Viper and the Urchin series are vivid, extraordinary, yet so real. I cannot help feeling affection for Rory, and Longinus may be a peacock, but his heart is definitely in the right place. In contrast, The Slave City contains a worthy villain in the evil Seneschal who manipulates the obese Prelate, a mere figurehead. Rory and her companions must discover who is trustworthy and who will deceive them, while Cruikshank suffers greatly.

The City of Azyr with its magnificent palace atop a steep hill and dust-covered, ramshackle huts for the poor at the lowest level spells out the structure of society so different to the mishmash of ethnicity and wealth in Damsport. Like a story from the Arabian Nights the vision of Palanquins and mechanised elephants, with richly dressed people served by slaves, is beautifully described, as is the horrific scene in the bloodstained arena. This is a thrilling, frightening adventure.

You can find Slave City on Amazon.com  and Amazon.co.uk

My Review of The Bloodless Assassin

celine

Celine Jeanjean

Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she’s watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China.

Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.

You can get a free novella by signing up to her mailing list here: http://celinejeanjean.com/the-pickpocket-free/