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!

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Blood and Ice by Robert Masello

Book Description:

Published: February 24, 2009

Format: Audio

In this haunting and suspenseful thriller, Robert Masello delivers an adventure that spans continents and centuries—a spellbinding story that ranges from Victorian England to a remote antarctic research station, where an ancient glacier yields a shocking prize it has held captive for nearly two hundred years….

Journalist Michael Wilde—his world recently shattered by tragedy—hopes that a monthlong assignment to the South Pole will give him a new lease on life. Here, in the most inhospitable place on earth, he is simply looking to find solace . . . until, on a routine dive in to the polar sea, he unexpectedly finds something else entirely: a young man and woman, bound with chains and sealed forever in a block of ice. Beside them a chest filled with a strange, and sinister, cargo.

Now, in a bleak but breathtaking world of shimmering icebergs, deep blue crevasses, and never-ending sun, Wilde must unravel the mystery of this doomed couple. Were they the innocent victims of fear and superstition—or were they something far darker? His search will lead from the barracks and battlefields of the Crimean War to the unexplored depths of the Antarctic Ocean, from the ill-fated charge of the Light Brigade to an age-old curse that survives to this day.

As the ice around the murdered lovers begins to melt, Wilde will have to grapple with a miracle—or a nightmare—in the making. For what is dead, it turns out, may not be gone. And here, at the very end of the known world, there’s nowhere to hide and no place left for the living to run.

Review –

In the prologue to this  supernatural thriller from the author, Robert Masello, two lovers—Lt. Sinclair Copley of the 17th Lancers and Eleanor Ames, a nurse from Florence Nightingale’s Harley Street hospital in London—fall into ice-strewn seas from a British sloop foundering near Antarctica in 1856.

In the present, Seattle writer Michael Wilde, who’s recovering from a personal tragedy, can’t resist the opportunity to go to Antarctica to write a magazine article about the Point Adélie research station.

Past and present stories alternate until Michael makes an amazing discovery in a submerged block of ice off the Antarctic coast—two frozen bodies, bound in chains. After Sinclair and Eleanor revive, Masello slowly and subtly reveals how they came to transcend death. The thrills and, most decidedly, the chills mount to a believable, sad and hopeful ending. Fans of John Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”—the basis for the movie The Thing —will find much to like. 

Even though the premise of this story was good, I just couldn’t get into the believability of it. It was a stretch, even for me. It was like TWILIGHT meets THE THING and the TITANTIC!

 

Tonight You’re Dead (Sandhamn Murders #4) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: November 14, 2017

Format: Audio

Soon to be divorced, attorney Nora Linde is finding her way as a single mother, and even falling in love again, when she’s asked by her childhood friend Detective Thomas Andreasson to help in a disturbing investigation. Marcus Nielsen, a university student, has apparently committed suicide, but it’s what he’s left behind that’s so suspicious and damning: his research into the Coastal Rangers, an elite military group where, in 1976, a young cadet died under questionable circumstances, a sadistic sergeant went free, and a case went cold.

When two of Nielsen’s contacts are also found dead—and diaries of their tortuous training turn up missing—Thomas and Nora are certain that whatever happened three decades ago is unforgivable. And for someone who wants to keep those secrets buried—unforgettable. Now they must fight against time to expose a cover-up that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Review –

I have found another foreign crime fiction series that I really like and again I’m reading the books out of order. The reason is that when I find one available I latch on to it and read or listen to it. I like to have the physical audio book and now they are hard to find so I have to rely on library apps like OverDrive and Libby and audio book apps like Audible.

Tonight You’re Dead is the fourth in the  Sandhamn Murders series of books – a place I love the sound of (multiple murders aside).  It sounds beautiful, set on the coast of Sweden and home to a mix of fascinating characters – not least of which (and central to all the books) is Nora, a single mom to two boys and best friend of Thomas, a local detective (and another central character in the books).

I can tell from the back story that Nora and Thomas have worked together on the solving of the crimes in the previous three books (even though she works for a bank). In this one Nora is hardly mentioned and Thomas works with a another police person, Margit.

The case itself was simple but cleverly conceived.  It starts with a young student found hanged, an apparent suicide.  Thomas is convinced by the young man’s mother to look into it further and, when he does, he finds a connection to another group of young men, Coastal Rangers who trained to be part of an elite fighting unit in the 1970s but are now also turning up dead, again looking like they have taken their own lives.

As Thomas and Margit try to find the connections, time seems to be running out for the men left alive.  It leads to a tense ending, one I didn’t see coming – which is always a plus.

I highly recommend this series.

In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2016

Format: Audio

Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

Review –

I found myself feeling for Grace as representative of the young woman of her time, but had difficulty understanding  Mina as a contemporary woman. Her wise cracking didn’t make up for her refusal to own up to the realities of her life. The connection between Mina and Grace and their stories is weak and not integral to the other or their outcomes. The mystic elements are also minor and either explained away or easily resolved. In the Light of What We See was a  pleasant, fast read, but fell short of expectations.