The Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Late Victorian London. When the most respectable of Scottish businessmen is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption and leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Dark Water Bride.

An epic drama combining the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.

Review –

OMG! This a mesmerizing , gory, dark little tale and I was completely absorbed listening to it.

I love a bit of mystery, gothic horror, and bloodthirsty murder and The Dark Water Bride combines all three delightfully. The business man’s daughter is a great character, feisty, determined, headstrong and not your typical simpering Victorian woman. I loved her determination to know the truth regardless of the cost.

The story starts out with a business man found dead in the river Thames. His daughter is told it was a suicide but she couldn’t believe it so travels to London to find out what happened to her father. Some uncomfortable truths and a local legend are revealed as the plot unfolds.

The story is very creepy, exploring the underbelly of London and it’s a dark dirty underbelly at that. This isn’t something for someone who is sensitive to sex and violence, there is quite a lot of both in it. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen about Darkwater Bride is the amount of sex and violence. I find it strange that this is the primary complaint about a story that explores the seedy, dark sides of the world.

There is certainly plenty of violence and sex but there’s also a good amount of intrigue, fright and suspense. Even a bit of rommance! This may disturb you, may upset you and might frighten you. But isn’t that what good horror is all about?

Overall the performances were all very good and convincing. The legend of the Darkwater Bride is fully explained , so no worries you won’t be left hanging.

The true story of the ghostly bride was heartbreaking.

If you have an Audible subscription and love creepy stuff, download this one and start listening, you’ll love it. Consider signing up for a free trial, would be worth it just to listen to this one!

Five stars !!!!!

 

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2009

Format: Audio/Audible

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much-loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairy tales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Review –

If I had to pick just one thing that Kate  Morton does extremely well with her writing it would be how she brings the settings featured throughout the story to life. One can feel the warm, thick air in Australia, hear the busy, bustling streets of London, and see the magic that surrounds Cornwall, England. I have never laid my eyes on any of these locations, but I could picture them all so vividly with the way that Morton breathes life into her words.

Overall, The Forgotten Garden is a magical novel; it was as delightful as it was suspenseful. I truly did not want to put this book down because the author is so careful to feed her readers little spoonfuls of information—enough so as to keep one partially satisfied but still craving more. I just thoroughly enjoyed watching the many beautifully executed components of this book unfold. This is a must-read specifically for those who are a fan of the historical fiction genre. 

I rated this book Five Stars and it shines brightly as one of my favorites of the year so far!

Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible 

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

Review –

Five stars!

This book has an unreliable narrator in Finn McQuaid, and Ellen, Layla’s sister, seems like a shadow of a character, yet, the story is Hitchockian, creepy-all those tiny Russian nesting dolls, far fetched the ending, and the suspense and paranoia are OFF the charts. There are things you’ll think you have figured out but then BAM, your wrong. I will be surprised if you figure this one out!

I can’t say too much without giving  too much away, suffice it to say this book is a MUST READ for your Summer.

The Hope That Kills (DI Fenchurch #1) by Ed James

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The body of a young woman is found on the streets of East London, in the shadow of the City’s gleaming towers. No ID on her, just hard-earned cash. But there is no doubting the ferocity of the attack.

DI Simon Fenchurch takes charge but, as his team tries to identify her and piece together her murder, they’re faced with cruel indifference at every turn—nobody cares about yet another dead prostitute. To Fenchurch, however, she could just as easily be Chloe, his daughter still missing after ten years, whose memory still haunts his days and nights, his burning obsession having killed his marriage.

When a second body is discovered, Fenchurch must peel back the grimy layers shrouding the London sex trade, confronting his own traumatic past while racing to undo a scheme larger, more complex and more evil than anything he could possibly have imagined.

Review –

This book introduces us to DI Simon Fenchurch and  we follow him around the streets of East London as he delves deeper into the criminal underworld to crack the case. In this first book we learn a bit about Fenchurch’s backstory, which I really like as you feel like you’re getting to know him and it makes sense why he (re)acts the way he does in certain situations. He is a very likeable guy, who is still troubled by the unsolved case of his missing daughter.

This story wasn’t as thrilling as some other police procedurals (eg. the DCI Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza) however, it does take you into the nitty gritty criminal underworld of East London; gripping in a raw, hard-hitting way.

I haven’t decided if I will read/listen to any other books in this series because the narrator of this one was not very good and narrators can make or break an audio book and the jury is still out on this one.

 

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself ?

Review –

I would classify book as “historical fiction” because the basic story is true. It’s hard to believe today  in our world of instant gratification, social media, iPhones, and fake news but in 1917 it was a very different time and people needed a distraction from the seriousness of war and hard times and so found it easier to believe in the fairy story and also it happened in England, where fairies, gnomes and “the wee little people” were often discussed.

“In 1917, while the world was in the midst of a war, cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright staged photographs to make it appear that Frances was surrounded by fairies. Although they never intended for the faked photographs to be seen by anyone outside their family, the photos became famous enough that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publicly claimed they were real. With so much attention directed toward them, Elsie and Frances promised to keep the truth a secret. One hundred years later, in the present day, Olivia Kavanagh inherits her grandfather’s bookshop in Ireland. But Olivia’s grandfather didn’t just leave her the bookshop—he also left a manuscript written by Frances, and it details exactly how (and more importantly, why) she and Elsie staged their photographs and maintained their hoax for so many years. Olivia has her own troubles to deal with—extracting herself from an unhappy engagement, caring for her ill grandmother, and facing a diagnosis of infertility—but she soon discovers that, as her grandfather told her, stories choose “the right readers at the right time.” Just as Frances realized that people needed to believe in fairies to find hope during WWI, Olivia finds that believing in a little bit of magic helps her reconnect with the woman she used to be. The insight into the true story of the Cottingley fairies is interesting, and it’s easy to understand why two girls might play along with an innocent trick that became a worldwide sensation. Olivia’s struggles are never quite as compelling, and readers may find themselves eager to slip back into the world of the fairies.” from Kirkus Review

It was a joy to read and if you want to read more about the actual story, here is a link complete with the photographs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Review –

Te story starts with a woman, Nel Abbott, who is found dead in a river in a spooky northern English town. It quickly emerges she is not the first person to meet a watery grave in Beckford. The mystery spirals out from this “did she fall or was she pushed” puzzle, and it is to Hawkins’s credit that she attempts to tell the story from multiple viewpoints, too many if you ask me.

The problem is that there are 11 of these characters. This is far too many and it seems the author battles to make these slightly troubled people distinct from one another. If reading the book you would have to keep looking for the name at the top of each page to see whose story you are in. If listening to the audio book version, which I did, it’s not as easy to keep all viewpoints separate and that’s my main complaint.

Paula Hawkins first book, The Girl on the Train, which sold over 15 million copies, had a certain kind of plausibility in its very focused suburban setting, but the whole “death stalks a strange northern-English town” idea feels incredibly hokey.

That being said, I loved it and with all its twists and turns, gave it five stars. It’s well worth reading or listening to just to see if you can manage all the points of view.

21)Not In The Flesh (Inspector Wexford #21) by Ruth Rendell

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2008

When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his master’s first reaction is delight at the size of the clump the dog has unearthed: at the going rate, this one truffle might be worth several hundred pounds. Then the dirt falls away to reveal not a precious mushroom but the bones and tendons of what is clearly a human hand.

In Not in the Flesh, Chief Inspector Wexford tries to piece together events that took place eleven years earlier, a time when someone was secretly interred in a secluded patch of English countryside. Now Wexford and his team will need to interrogate everyone who lives nearby to see if they can turn up a match for the dead man among the eighty-five people in this part of England who have disappeared over the past decade. Then, when a second body is discovered nearby, Wexford experiences a feeling that’s become a rarity for the veteran policeman: surprise.

Review –

This was the first time I’ve read or listened to a book by this author and I found it a little slow but pleasant.  Not great, but an okay way to pass the day. A lot of the incidents in the book were just too implausible to happen, but that’s why it’s called fiction!

If you like a good “who-dun-it” give this one a try.

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Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure (Aunt Dimity Mystery #21) by Nancy Atherton

Book Description:

Published: May 24, 2016

While exploring the attic in her cottage near the small English village of Finch, Lori Shepherd makes an extraordinary discovery: a gold and silver bracelet inlaid with gleaming garnets, which she quickly learns belonged to Aunt Dimity. When Lori brings news of the garnet bracelet to Aunt Dimity, it awakens poignant memories of a doomed romance in Aunt Dimity’s past. Regretfully, Aunt Dimity asks Lori to do what she could not bring herself to do—return the bracelet to her unsuccessful suitor or to his rightful heir.

In the meantime, a new family has moved to Finch. The villagers are thrilled because their new neighbors are avid metal detectorists. Metal detectors soon become all the rage in Finch and the villagers unearth a lot of rubbish (some of it quite embarrassing) before one of them stumbles upon a real treasure—an ancient hoard of priceless gold and silver artifacts.

The artifacts look strangely familiar to Lori. She begins to suspect that the villager isn’t the only person who’s stumbled upon the hoard. Did Aunt Dimity’s suitor get there first? If he took the garnet bracelet from the hoard, what else might he have taken? Was Aunt Dimity’s long-lost love a common thief? If so, who is his rightful heir? As Lori searches for answers, she discovers an unexpected link between the buried treasure in the village and the treasure buried in Aunt Dimity’s heart.

Review –

If you love cozy mysteries, you should really read the Aunt Dimity Mystery Series, and in order. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference in which order a series is read but this one follows the characters from the beginning with the discovery of an unexpected inheritance by a woman Lori didn’t even know, to how Lori met the man she would marry and their  life in the quaint village of Finch in England. There is a natural progression in the lives of all the characters involved  and the reading is easy and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

I love this book just as much as the others and look forward to the next one.

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Vertigo 42 (Richard Jury #23) by Martha Grimes

Book Description:

Published: June 3, 2014

In her latest Richard Jury mystery, Martha Grimes delivers the newest addition to the bestselling series The Washington Postcalls “literate, lyrical, funny, funky, discursive, bizarre.” The inimitable Scotland Yard Superintendent returns, now with a tip of the derby to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Richard Jury is meeting Tom Williamson at Vertigo 42, a bar on the forty-second floor of an office building in London’s financial district. Despite inconclusive evidence, Tom is convinced his wife, Tess, was murdered seventeen years ago. The inspector in charge of the case was sure Tess’s death was accidental—a direct result of vertigo—but the official police inquiry is still an open verdict and Jury agrees to re-examine the case.

Jury learns that a nine-year-old girl fell to her death five years before Tess at the same country house in Devon where Tess died. The girl had been a guest at a party Tess was giving for six children. Jury seeks out the five surviving party guests, who are now adults, hoping they can shed light on this bizarre coincidence.

Meanwhile, an elegantly dressed woman falls to her death from the tower of a cottage near the pub where Jury and his cronies are dining one night. Then the dead woman’s estranged husband is killed as well. Four deaths—two in the past, two that occur on the pages of this intricate, compelling novel—keep Richard Jury and his sidekick Sergeant Wiggins running from their homes in Islington to the countryside in Devon and to London as they try to figure out if the deaths were accidental or not. And, if they are connected.

Witty, well-written, with literary references from Thomas Hardy to Yeats, Vertigo 42 is a pitch perfect, page-turning novel from a mystery writer at the top of her game.

Review –

This author was another first for me and I found the book mesmerizing and hard to put down. The characters were very believable and easy to relate to and the plot  was full of mystery and intrigue. 

If you enjoy Alfred Hitchcock, then this is the novel for you. Fantastic read from beginning to end.

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A Pale Horse (Inspector Ian Rutledge #10) by Charles Todd

Book Description:

Published: December 26, 2007

In the ruins of Yorkshire’s Fountains Abbey lies the body of a man wrapped in a cloak, the face covered by a gas mask. Next to him is a book on alchemy, which belongs to the schoolmaster, a conscientious objector in the Great War. Who is this man, and is the investigation into his death being manipulated by a thirst for revenge?

Meanwhile, the British War Office is searching for a missing man of their own, someone whose war work was so secret that even Rutledge isn’t told his real name or what he did.

The search takes Rutledge to Berkshire, where cottages once built to house lepers stand in the shadow of a great white horse cut into the chalk hillside. The current inhabitants of the cottages are outcasts, too, hiding from their own pasts. Who among them is telling the truth about their neighbors and who is twisting it?

Here is a puzzle requiring all of Rutledge’s daring and skill, for there are layers of lies and deception, while a ruthless killer is determined to hold on to freedom at any cost. And the pale horse looming overhead serves as a reminder that death is never finished with anyone, least of all the men who fought in the trenches of France.

Review –

This is my first time reading/listening to a book in the  Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd and I’m sorry that it had to be number ten because I know that I’ve missed a lot of character developement that has occurred in the earlier books. Since this author was new to me I didn’t want to spend money on a book so I found number ten on OverDrive and gave it a try.

The characters are all believable and the story line held my interest all the way to the end and I particularly like that the ending is not predictable.  A great mystery for a horribly windy Oklahoma afternoon.

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