Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Silk (The Bloodstone Series book 1) by Chris Karlsen

Silk (The Bloodstone Series Book 1)A murder mystery set in London during the late 1880s. At the same time as Jack the Ripper is haunting Whitechapel, another serial killer is on the loose in a different part of London.

When murder victims are discovered in the grounds surrounding the National British Museum, the task of solving these murders falls on Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone. He suspects, however, that there may actually be two different killers operating in his jurisdiction and so sets about to prove his theory. This puts him at odds with his superiors who want the case closed quickly. 

What I found interesting about this novel is that it is told from two different viewpoints. We are privy to the killer's identity from the outset and are shown how he develops his taste for strangling women, his attempts at romance, and ultimately, the deterioration of his sanity in his search for an elixir that promises youth. He is an interesting character. In parts of the novel I actually quite liked him! and was hoping he could be redeemed. But obviously cold blooded killers can't be redeemed and by the end I was rooting for Detective Inspector Bloodstone to get his man.

We also read the story from the police procedural point of view. Even though it is clear from the outset who the killer is, it isn't until the very end of the novel that the identity of the second murderer is revealed. I was glad that this little nugget of mystery held out until the end.

There is also a little bit of romance in the background as Detective Inspector Bloodstone is single and there seems to be plenty of women lining up to date him. 

This was a great read and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Tempting Treasures by Michele Buchholz (2015)

Tempting Treasures
''After the demise of her grandfather, nineteen year old Lady Elena St John has spent the last three years running an impoverished barony. Orphaned and alone, she searches for a hidden family treasure while plagued by the ghost of Lady Katherine, the creator of the intricate clues, though the apparition refuses to relinquish any answers. 

Retired spy, James Stewart, Earl of Richmond, seeks escape from the clutches of his matchmaking family. Intent on finding purpose in his new role, he dives headfirst into the running of the earldom ending up at a forgotten inherited barony. Obsessed with discovering the secret of the young lady in residence, he is convinced the recent series of accidents are anything but. 

Frustration mounts as Elena, desperate to hide her family’s smuggling operation, deflects James’ curiosity with the legend of the hidden treasure. Can they put personal grievances aside and work together to unravel the clues of a more tempting treasure?''

This novel has everything I love; a historical setting, romance, mystery, murder, a secret treasure, villains and a ghost!

The story is quick paced and so well written, I felt as though I was actually there walking through those secret passages and could almost feel the tingles when Katherine, the ghost, made her appearances.

The romance between Elena and James was realistic, sweet and funny. For a retired government spy, I wonder how good James actually was at his job as Elena certainly managed to thwart him at every turn and keep her secrets well guarded. She of course had the advantage of having the unwavering love and loyalty of her staff and the villagers. And as for all his blustering about wanting to keep her safe and guarding her, he never actually managed to properly come to her rescue despite all the opportunities to do so. Elena is plucky enough to defend herself when the need arises.  James is such a likeable character though. He is very caring of Elena when she is hurt and he treats her with kindness even when she doesn't really deserve it.
I also liked Katherine, the malevolent ghost, whose malicious diatribes added some humour to the tale, as she goaded Elena every opportunity she could get.

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Shadow Of A Doubt (The Tangled Ivy Trilogy #2) by Tiffany Snow (2015)

Shadow of a Doubt

''Ivy Mason has it all: beauty, a plush apartment, a fancy car, and a debonair British spy boyfriend who pays all her bills. If only her boyfriend was in her life—and her bed—more than just sporadically.

Part of an underground British agency called the Shadow, Devon Clay knows that secrecy is what has kept him alive. Anyone he loves is a liability, and being involved with him puts the other person in grave danger. Yet Ivy is someone his heart can’t resist.

When an enemy from Devon’s past returns, the spy and his girlfriend are thrown headlong into an international conspiracy that puts everyone Ivy loves at risk. From the Missouri River bottoms to the brothels of Amsterdam, Ivy and Devon must outrun and outmaneuver the forces allied against them, and no one can be trusted.''

I am really enjoying this series. The characters and situations are exciting and completely over the top. It is pure escapist fiction in the best sense of the term.

Shadow Of A Doubt will be released on the 12th May 2015 and is available to pre order now on Amazon.

Heart of Ice by Sibelle Stone 2015

Heart of Ice

''Will their passion for each other be a blessing, or fulfill an ancient curse and destroy them? 

Lucinda Stafford is uniquely unqualified to serve as governess for the children of a handsome inventor. But, she’s determined to prove to her family she’s not a fragile, pampered heiress who can’t take care of herself. She didn’t plan to be attracted to the man who makes her furious one moment and whimper with desire the next. When danger threatens, can she save two innocent children from a terrifying nightmare? 

Grayson Thorne has only weeks to prove his geothermal plant can generate electricity, or he’ll lose much needed funding. He’s desperate to hire a new governess, but shocked when his housekeeper returns home with a beautiful, educated female who awakens long dormant desires. She’s the perfect choice, if he can manage to keep his hunger for her kisses and fantasies of taking her to his bed under control. 

An ancient Icelandic curse hides in the hills, haunting the residents of Thornehús. Grayson and Lucinda may be swept away by passion, but they must face an unspeakable horror that threatens them all.''

I loved this historical romance. Eventhough the governess romance theme has been around for a long time, the author manages to put her own spin on it. I liked how Grayson even referred to their attraction as  a cliché. The author also, unusually for this genre, sets the story in Iceland and adds a supernatural threat. It all ties together nicely and I couldn't put it down.
The relationship between Lucinda and the children was sweet and realistic and I enjoyed the verbal sparring between her and Grayson.

I would definitely read more by the author.

The Billionaire's Bid (Indigo Isalnd Book 4) Kaira Rouda 2015

The story takes place on Indigo Island. Aubrey has inherited land on the island but also a heap of debts. To raise funds Audrey puts a lease on the land out to bid to loggers and she hires local forester Dirk Cooly to develop a forest management plan. She invites billionaire James Putnam, a former one night stand, to make a bid.
Things don't go according to plan. James makes a mess of his presentation and to make matters worse he doesn't remember his drunken hookup with Aubrey the year before.
Dirk hates James and will do anything, including sabotaging Aubrey's business plan and her future on the island, in order to ruin him.

I enjoyed the environmental angle to the plot. I could imagine the residents of the island, their unique customs and the beautiful trees and landscape.
Although this is the fourth book in a series, it works great as a stand alone short novel.
The characters and plot are well developed and I really enjoyed it.

The book is well written. It is a quick read and I would enjoy reading the others in the series.

'The Billionaire's Bid' will be available from the 20th April and can be pre-ordered now for 1.99 on Amazon UK

Poppy's Dilemma By Nancy Carson 2015

Poppy's Dilemma

Poppy Silk is an endearing character who attempts to drag herself up out of the poverty of the railroad shanty town and to a better life through education. We follow Poppy as she follows her dreams. She finds a way to get educated and move away, but in the process falls in love with Robert Crawford, a young engineer who unfortunately is engaged to someone else.

The male characters in this novel are somewhat of a let down. Robert is absent for much of the story and when he reappears towards the end he hasn't changed at all! He is still weak willed and a complete bore. I could only muster lukewarm feelings towards him and their relationship. The men in the shanty town are heaps more interesting but completely unsuitable and unworthy of Poppy. Not because they are poor but because they are all portrayed as nasty pieces of work.

I enjoyed reading about Poppy and her friends but I wish there had been more to Robert.

Interesting but not as good as a Catherine Cookson. 

I'd recommend purchasing  the digital edition of this novel for 99p Amazon UK

Bees Like Flowers (Mummy Nature) (Volume 2) Rebecca Bielawski 2014

 Bees Like Flowers: Volume 2 (Mummy Nature)
Simple and informative as well as being a beautifully illustrated little book about why bees like flowers.

I read this to a group of 4-6 year olds and they enjoyed it. 
It didn't answer all their questions though. They particularly wanted to know 'how the bees spreading pollen helps flowers to grow?' Although this could lead on to further reading and research, for children this age, an extra page or two to explain how bees help plants to reproduce, in simple terms, would make the book complete.