Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister #BookReview #MarchReleases

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girlindisguiseTitle: Girl in Disguise
Author: Greer Macallister
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 308 pages
Publication Details: March 21st 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Adventure; Mystery 
Disclosure? Yep, I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review!

Goodreads 

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For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

Review

I didn’t know what to expect from Girl in Disguise having not read Macallister’s debut novel The Magician’s Lie or knowing much about the Pinkertons/ that era of American history to be perfectly honest. However, I do enjoy a good historical yarn now and then as long it’s not too bogged down in facts and figures, so I was eager to give it a try.

We first meet Kate Warne – famous for being the first ever female detective – when she is setting out to be just that. She answers an ad in a paper knowing full well that it will be difficult to persuade them that she’s the right man for the job, as it were. But of course she does, and so we follow Kate as she begins her training with Allan Pinkerton to learn everything she can about being an undercover operative.

Kate has a bit of a shaky start, including a run-in with colleague Bellamy but after that we watch her go from strength to strength and become more confident and cunning in her abilities.

I really enjoyed Macallister’s take on Kate Warne. She could probably come across quite cold and stern to some but because we hear the story from her point of view we know differently, we know it’s merely a self-defence tactic which is necessary for her to adopt considering all the things that are stacked against her. The main one of course being that she is a woman in a time where ‘respectable’ women aren’t even supposed to have jobs, never mind this kind of job.

I liked that Girl in Disguise is an action-packed adventure but also uses Kate Warne’s story to explore a lot of interesting issues surrounding equality. In a time of female oppression, Kate not only makes ground-breaking steps forward, she is also fiercely aware that other women are so accustomed to inequality that they’re often their own worst enemies…

They don’t hesitate to hang women down here”

“Could they be so awful?”

“What’s awful about it?” she shrugged. “Our crimes are as serious as theirs. Our punishments should be too.”

“A miserable sort of equality to hope for.”

Even in these terrible circumstances, she looked proud. “If we take the good, we also have to take the bad.We don’t get to fetch it up piecemeal.”

I think that sort of double-standards still rings true today. There is also the character of Deforest who Kate – whilst working on her tracking skills – discovers he is harbouring a secret that would see him hanged – he’s gay. Kate and Deforest’s friendship was my favourite in the novel, and I liked how the author captured her initial reaction and how her attitude towards him changed throughout the book. It rang true to the era and didn’t take the easy route of making Kate completely ambivalent towards it.

“In some way, I couldn’t possibly fathom him, his unnatural interests, his decision to be like he was. But the undertow of his terror, I understood.”

Macallister has done a great job in researching the real Kate Warne and building on that with her own version of the detective. Like I said earlier, I’m not a fan of historical fiction when it’s all facts and no storytelling but there was definitely a lot of storytelling here, with the facts seamlessly embedded. I thought some of Macallister’s descriptions were lovely too, making it a compelling read.

“The woman lay on the carpet as if resting, which I suppose she was, only forever.”

My one critique is that first half of the book felt a bit like a montage of events which made the pace nice and fast but I longed for more detail; it sometimes felt like Macallister was trying to fit too much in at once. She could have concentrated on just one or two of Warne’s interesting cases rather than an overview of many. This was most definitely improved on in the second half of the book though.

In this novel we see Kate Warne’s rise and fall, and the changing attitudes towards her from those around her. It’s a fun, rollercoaster of a read, and one which reads as a love letter to plucky women whose actions make the world a better place. Therefore it’s bound to be called a great feminist story, but I’d prefer to just call it a great story, Full Stop.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson #BookReview #YA

silentsongbirdTitle: The Silent Songbird
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Hagenheim #7
Format: Digital ARC, 304 pages
Publication Details: November 8th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Review

My request-happy trigger finger strikes again and I requested this book based on the cover alone. What I didn’t realise was that it’s number 7 (SEVEN!) in a series, and that Melanie Dickerson is a popular Christian author. Oh dear.

Thankfully, the books in the  Hagenheim series can be read as stand-alones. Some characters do seem to crossover but each book follows a different protagonist. So no disasters so far.

The whole Christian thing however, was slightly more of an issue for me. I’m not religious at all, but I like to think I have an open mind so I didn’t let it put me off. And to be fair, I still enjoyed the story, but I did get a bit bored with all the praying. As the story progressed it got more and more preachy.

However, let’s go back to basics. The Silent Songbird is a gentle story about Evangeline, a sheltered princess-type who feels stifled living in the King’s castle. When the King insists she marry his conniving but trusted adviser, it’s the last straw and Evangeline runs away.

In a bid to hide her identity, she becomes Eva, and claims to be mute. She ends up working as a (pretty terrible) servant and falling in love with a handsome farm-boy.

There was definitely a lot to like in this book. I enjoyed the romance and that Evangeline could be feisty. I liked that she was willing to fight for what she wanted and that she wouldn’t settle for what most girls of her stature usually would. I thought she was a good role model.

Lord Shiveley, the man whom Evangeline has been promised to was a great villain who left a bad taste in my mouth and I was rooting for our protagonist and Westley the whole time.

I did however find the story pretty predictable, and as I said earlier, the praying and god-talk got a bit much at times. It was also supposed to be a retelling of  The Little Mermaid and other than the protagonist having red hair and a beautiful singing voice, I don’t think that came through much. There did seem to be lots of nods to The Princess Bride though, which I loved.

This was a nice introduction to Melanie Dickerson, and despite the Christian theme, I’d be interested to read more of her work; it was a very readable, enjoyable YA historical fiction romance.

unicorn rating 3

 

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay #BookReview #Magic

a7Title: The Witches of New York
Author: Ami McKay
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: October  2016 by Orion Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Magic Realism; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients.

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

Review

Although not a sequel, this book follows a character from McKay’s acclaimed novel The Virgin Cure, which if I had known before (lack of research on my part) would perhaps have put me off requesting it. Fortunately it didn’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, my first foray into the world of Ami McKay didn’t quite beguile me like I thought it would. 

The Witches of New York follows young Beatrice who is seeking employment. When she sees an advert in the paper from a strange-sounding tea shop where ‘those averse to magic need not apply’, she feels like this will be the start of a new life for her, and it is.

Owned by Adelaide, a seer (and Moth from The Virgin Cure) and Eleanor, a witch, the tea shop is a front to a growing magic business. Beatrice soon becomes an invaluable apprentice but her visions begin to haunt her, and she’s weakened and easily exploited.

I liked some parts of this book, but I just don’t think I was in the mood for it. I can imagine enjoying a lazy Sunday reading this, but trying to read it during a busy schedule didn’t work. The pace was painfully slow and although the descriptions were beautiful and elegant, they were subtle and drawn-out. I found myself skim reading a lot.

This novel does have a great magic-realism atmosphere, and McKay is clearly a talented writer, but this book was too light for me. She reminded me a lot of Alice Hoffman, albeit with something missing.

However, I liked the way she presents these real-life witches – as strong, independent women in an era where women had no rights, were discriminated against, and most certainly should not have worked in a shop, never mind owned one. AND I liked that the heart of this book was about women’s relationships in that hard time where it was extremely brave of them to be proud of who they are.

Basically, I enjoyed what McKay was tying to do here, but I needed more to take hold of to keep me interested in the plodding plot.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

Lazy Saturday Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller #MiniBookReview #GreekMyths

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

songofTitle: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Publication Details:  April 12th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Mythology
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Review

I have to cover this book in a ‘Lazy Saturday Review‘ because I loved it so much I don’t think I could produce an actual, balanced review. I just want to gush about it. 

After only a few chapters in I was annoyed with myself for not reading this when it first came out! I’ve always loved mythological stories but despite owning a copy of The Iliad for about 10 years I’ve never read it. Like most people though, I thought I knew the story of Achilles, the kind but brutal warrior, but Miller’s version was both familiar yet surprising, and I loved every second of it.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like. I loved seeing Achilles through Patroclus’ eyes. With all of his faults, Patroclus’ love for the half-God warrior never wavered and he was the true hero of the story. 

Miller effortlessly incorporates the Greek Gods into this very human story making the likes of The Iliad seem much less of a challenge. I really will pick it up now! I also can’t believe this is her debut novel – it reads as if she’s been honing her skills for years – that being said, I did read somewhere that it took her ten years (or so) to write. I for one, am eternally grateful that she persevered.

The Song of Achilles excited me, made me swoon, made me angry, and made me cry. It’s a book I now need to buy so I can read it again. ALL THE UNICORNS. 

unicorn rating 

 

Book Blitz: Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicole Taylor #BookBlitz #XpressoBookTours

 

 

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Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found. This time it’s thanks to Xpresso book tours for arranging the blitz and giveaway for this intriguing Peter Pan-inspired YA Historical Novel.

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

norakettlePublished by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 29th 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing.

Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks

EXCERPT

 

This is some medieval contest. Teeth gnash, men who smell much too much like men and… fish… grab at each other’s heads and hair, pull each other down and claw at each other’s necks. They are a desperate, scrabbling entity. I stand back from the jostling crowd, wondering whether I can do this. I bite my lip, lock my limbs, and decide it can’t be worse than anything else I’ve experienced. So I take a deep breath and await instruction.

“You don’t have to do this,” Kettle says as he edges into the throng from the western side.

Yes I do.

“I want to,” I say, trying to keep my voice low this time. Kettle chuckles at my attempt to sound like a boy, his blue eyes flashing with excitement.

Over the noise, he yells, ducking when a fist comes flying at his shoulder, “You’re small, fast, try to squeeze your way in.” He shoulders his way in and disappears. I hear him shouting underneath a tangle of arms, “If you don’t make it through, wait for me outside.”

He doesn’t think I’ll make it. It makes me more determined to prove him wrong. I test a foot on the edge. It instantly gets stepped on. I grimace.

Think.

I think about a slap coming toward me, my father’s palm aching to mark my cheek red. If I could have avoided it, ducked out of the way, what would I have done? How would I have done it?

Each man in this throe of clashing bodies becomes my father. And I’m surprised that instead of wanting to hurt them, all I want to do is get through, stand on the inside of the fence where he/they can’t get to me anymore.

There are small shadows of space opening up before my eyes, and I hurl toward them, I stop thinking, stop worrying, and just react. Under elbows, between bodies, over large legs trying to stomp on me. There are no walls to be thrown against. No one to protect. There is an escape, a way through for me to find.

The freedom tastes delicious, salty and hard-earned on my tongue.

I’m nearly there. The fence vibrates, ringing for me. Calling—You’re close, so close. My hand stretches to the wire and I grab at it, missing as my head suddenly jerks back. Someone’s fingers dig into my collar and pull me backward. The top button on my shirt presses into my neck and I can’t breathe, a strange cacking, gurgling noise coming from the back of my throat. I turn around to meet the owner of the hand. A small, twisted man, a skeleton almost. My cap tips back and he sees my face clearly, suddenly releasing me. “Sorry, ma’am,” he says. Then he’s scattered behind me like a spilled bag of bones, and I’m thrust forward.

The gate slides open and my feet don’t feel like they’re connected to the ground. I’m carried along, through the gap by a sea of muscled, grunting flesh and thrown into the clear, sea air.

The guard at the gate claps it shut and shouts at me, “Lucky last, eh?”

I made it. Me.

Meet the Author

noraauthorLauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

Enter the Blitz-wide giveaway and you could win a Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box (INTL)! Huge thanks to the publishers and Xpresso Book Tours. 

 Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fish out of Water #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is…Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently That Weren’t My Typical Genre

We all know that my favourite genre is YA but I do think it’s completely necessary to read other genres too, especially adult fiction. As far as AF goes, my comfort zones are crime fiction, thrillers and horror. After that, things get a bit sporadic and I flail around like that titular fish up there.

I like reading out of my comfort zone, although I don’t do it nearly enough. Probably because my success rate hasn’t been so great. Here are ten ‘uncomfortable’ books I’ve read in the last year or so and how successful they were in making me more prone to read that genre.

  1. Bookishly Ever After ~ Isabel Bandeira (YA Contemporary)

    bookishlyThis book only confirmed why I fell out of love with contemporary YA. It was so whiny and will they/won’t they it made me want to do a little sick in my mouth

    Success Rate 0%

  2. Sixteen Sixty One ~ Natalie Lucas (Memoir)

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    I did enjoy this, in that I found it interesting. I was impressed by how it read a lot like fiction. That didn’t really help me believe it though… 

    Success Rate 60%

  3. The Frenchman ~ Lesley Young

  4.  Fearless ~ Devon Hartford

    (New Adult)

    frenchmanfearlessI was pretty surprised how much I enjoyed both of these steamy novels. We all need a bit of sexy trash in our reading now and again, right? And to be fair, they were a lot less trashy than I thought they would be.

    Success Rate 66%

  5. The Barefoot Queen ~  Ildefonso Falcones

  6. Rush of Shadows ~ Catherine Bell

  7. Burial Rites ~ Hannah Kent

    (Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction)

    barefootarc3burialIf these novels were anytting to go by (lesser so with The Barefoot Queen) then I should definitely read more historical fiction. It’s a genre that I always think I have to be in the right mood for, but I find that they are often more rewarding than other genres. 
    Success Rate 85% 

  8. You’re the One that I Want ~ Giovanna Fletcher

  9. After Wimbledon ~ Jennifer Gilby Roberts

  10. The Magic of Christmas ~ Trisha Ashley

    (Women’s Fiction)

    yourewimbwinter7I enjoyed all three of these books which I would class as ‘chick lit’ although I’m aware a lot of people don’t like that term. It’s another genre that I can’t read too much of as I feel like they can become quite samey. But I definitely enjoy the genre more than I let myself believe. Success Rate 80%

 

 

Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister #HorrorOctober

I discovered Cleo’s blog, Cleopatra Loves Books relatively early on in my blogging life, and have been an avid reader ever since. I really enjoy crime fiction, especially a good, gritty, psychological thriller, but I still find myself only reading them sporadically.

Cleo however, has a seemingly insatiable appetite for all that involves death and murder, something we have joked about before in comments and such. As Horror October approached I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about Cleo, her blog, and where her love of crime fiction came from.

Huge thanks to Cleo for agreeing and sending over this great guest post. If you don’t follow her, head over there ASAP (she also covers more than just crime fic btw).

HorrorOct2015

My Love of Murder and Mayhem

by Cleo Bannister, Cleopatra Loves Books

I came to murder fairly late in life, although on reflection the seeds were sown earlier, but up until relatively recently you were more likely to find chick-lit or historical women’s fiction decking the shelves of my bookcase. These days they are dominated by black spines adorned with words such as death, murder or the darkly mysterious single word title!

My earliest introduction to murder stories came in the form of true-crime, more specifically the very trashy looking True Crime magazines with which I scared myself half to death before passing them onto my younger brother (something my more responsible adult self would say is probably not to be recommended).

Buying these magazines was a feat in itself, we lived in a rural town where everyone knew my mother, who certainly wouldn’t have approved, and they were kept on the top shelf. I’m not exactly tall now, and in those days top-shelves weren’t meant to be reached by under-sized teenagers so it was only on trips to the nearby city, Gloucester, that I was occasionally brave enough to get someone taller to pass me a copy.

Our local library didn’t stock YA fiction, it hadn’t been invented back in the 80s, and so once I’d finished the children’s section it was straight round the corner to adult fiction where I continued to read the classics fairly indiscriminately interspersed with the occasional bonk-buster as was required reading for every girl my age! Now either my library didn’t stock much in the way of crime fiction or I simply never really came across it, remember these were pre-internet days, you read what was available and unless you had a title and an author it really was pot-luck when pulling books out of the shelves.

Murder on the Orient ExpressI do remember one holiday home we stayed in, I want to say it was Wales but maybe that is my adult self, superimposing the stereotypical rainy weather on an entirely innocent region, which contained a huge stack of readers digest magazines and a good stock of Agatha Christie books which I devoured with relish and then I returned home and they became the one highlight in a very wet, windy and quite frankly miserable holiday.

In no time at all I left home, joined a library in every place that I called home still without any real structure to my reading, except for an overwhelming need to have a constant supply of books and it was only when I moved to Jersey that I became reacquainted with Agatha Christie with Poirot being played by the marvellous David Suchet which was required Sunday evening viewing for an entire winter, as well as settling down more than happily to watch Inspector Wexford do his stuff in a gentler contrast to Poirot’s more flamboyant manner. I sought out Ruth Rendell’s books featuring the detective and fortunately not only was Jersey library better stocked, it was better structured, books were shelved traditionally but some shelves were designated genres, paperbacks or recently published books, although I found my best bet of getting the choicest picks was to peruse the trolley which had the recently returned books on it. There I picked up a book by Barbara Vine, A Fatal Inversion, and having worked out this was Ruth Rendell whose Inspector Wexford books had filled my need for police procedurals, who used the pen name Barbara Vine when she wrote about crime from a psychological view-point.

Happy Like Murderers - Fred and Rose WestIn 1994 Fred West, an odd-job man in Gloucester had his garden dug up and the bones of his daughter who had been missing for eight years were located, I was in hospital giving birth to my son when the news came through that more bodies had been found, twelve in total. When Fred’s wife Rose was arrested, and later found guilty, I wanted to understand how such a large number of murders could take place under the noses of the residents in Cromwell Street, a road that I had walked along the end of many times while living in Gloucester.

I also wanted to understand why? Particularly in the case of Rose; what sort of woman kills for pleasure? In short this case reawakened my interest in true crime, although I now accept that the answers to the why part of my question will probably never be clear since Rose has refused to say anything at all in the intervening years.

Jersey library had a fairly good stock of the books that spring up after a particularly sensational crime so for a while my days were filled with caring for my young children while my nights were spent looking into some of the most depraved minds to grace the earth. It will relieve all those close to me that I wasn’t particularly interested in the methods used, I was interested in the make-up of these men and women.

The Scolds BridleAt about the same time I came across Minette Waters who wrote in a new style, one which combined my interest in the psychological but felt far more modern than Barbara Vine, whose novels were often, but not always, set in a bygone era. Minette Waters used transcripts and newspaper articles as part of her stories, which were without exception incredibly powerful. In The Scold’s Bridle, Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in her bath, flowers in her hair and wearing just us to a medieval torture implement, the scold’s bridle – absolute genius, no crazed serial killer needed just a deeply disturbing (and it still disturbs me now twenty years later) image.

In many ways my crime fiction reading continued with those books picked up for TV serialisation so I came across the marvellous Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Frost and of course the wonderful Morse and true to form proceeded to read the entire series of each – people the books are so much better than the TV series! There is far more to these books than cosy Sunday night viewing, the depth in the Dalziel and Pascoe books whilst brilliantly portrayed on screen, is lost when reduced to a two hour show.

As the years rolled by although I picked up any new books by these now much loved authors, plus a few more favourites found along the way, most notably Gillian White who wrote brilliant psychological thrillers with P.D. James, Peter James and Gill McGown for the more classic police procedurals, my reading was more concentrated on the books of the moment, I loved Bridget Jones, Dorothy Koomson, Lisa Jewell and Jodi Picoult. At the same time I love history and have a particular weakness for dual time-line stories so Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Lucinda Riley also have book that still grace my shelves today.

In 2010, with far more time on my hands, I decided to start reviewing the books I was reading on Amazon, and was lucky enough to be invited onto their Amazon Vine program which offered me free books in return for a review. I was in heaven and here was an opportunity to read books not only before publication but to check out those that I probably wouldn’t pick up in a bookstore.

The books I chose became increasingly dominated by murder and mayhem so that in 2015 out of the 111 books read and reviewed so far 67 are shelved under crime fiction or psychological thriller with a high percentage of non-fiction category also being books about murderous intent. My love of history, and particularly women’s history hasn’t dimmed, but now I enjoy books about Victorian Murderesses, women committed to lunatic asylums and suffragettes instead of love stories.

In 2013 Cleopatra Loves Books was launched primarily so that I had control of the books I’d reviewed and since then, the list of books I’ve found and been recommended that fit into this preferred genre has grown totally out of control. I thank you fellow bloggers for some absolute cracking reviews that has widened my reading to include such a variety of murderers from the domestic to the sadistic serial killer, I simply can’t get enough!

As you can probably tell, I have read loads of books about murder and mayhem so far so I’ll just leave you with a few suggestions from my bookshelves but if you want more detailed advice you can always contact me on my blog – I don’t even bite!

Police Procedural Series
Police Procedural

Roy Grace Series – Peter James
Lewis Trilogy – Peter May
Dalziel and Pascoe – Reginald Hill

Psychological Thriller
Psychological
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
Copycat – Gillian White

Historical Crime Fiction
Historical Crime

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young
Out of the Silence – Wendy James
Caversham Lock – Peter Conway

Non-Fiction
Non Fiction
A Very British Murder – Lucy Worsley
The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath – Jane Robbins
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale

Thanks again to Cleo! I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a murder mystery or two this Autumn, it certainly has for me! 🙂

Book Promo: Little Sacrifices by Jamie Scott (including a free download)

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found, where I’m always thrilled to support independent authors and publishers.

This promo comes from Jamie Scott who is better known as chick-Lit author Michele Gorman of Curvy Girls fame!

Established in her own right, Gorman, writing here as Jamie Scott has turned her hand at Literary Fiction, and launches Little Sacrifices, an atmospheric coming-of-age women’s fiction novel set in the 1940s American South.

Keep reading to claim your free download!

About the book

littlesac
Title: Little Sacrifices
Author: Jamies Scott
Editions: Paperback/Kindle/e-Book
Publication Details: First published March 2012 (relaunched June 2015)
Genre(s): Historical Fiction

Goodreads // Amazon UK // Amazon US // Amazon Australia // Amazon Canada

How much would you risk to stand up for your beliefs?

When Duncan and Sarah Powell move with their daughter, May, to Savannah Georgia in 1947, they hope against hope that they’ll be welcomed. But they’re Yankees and worse, they’re civil rights advocates almost a decade too early.

At first May can pretend they’re the same as everyone else. It means keeping quiet when she knows she should speak up, but it’s worth the sacrifice to win friends. Unfortunately her parents are soon putting their beliefs into action. And when they wake to find that they’re the only family on the block with a Ku Klux Klan cross blazing on their front lawn, the time comes for them to finally decide between what’s easy and what’s right.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Rom Com like Michele Gorman’s books under her own name, Little Sacrifices contains adult themes that some readers may find uncomfortable.

Meet the Author

gorman
I write romantic comedy, including SINGLE IN THE CITY (the first in The Expat Diaries series) and BELLA SUMMER TAKES A CHANCE. Born and raised in the US, I lost my heart to London 16 years ago, where I’ve lived ever since. I’ve also turned my hand to upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott.

I spend way too much time on twitter and facebook when I should be writing, so please come say hello there. I’m @michelegormanUK on twitter, and we can connect on facebook through https://www.facebook.com/MicheleGorman

Secret Free Download (Shhh)!

Michele has been kind enough to let me (and therefore you) in on a little secret. If you go on Amazon’s Little Sacrifices page (see the above links) and click on “Look Inside”, you can download her book Single in the City for free, and be sure to check out Little Sacrifices too, of course!

If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

This Month in Books (May 2015) & June Releases

I really enjoyed May!

I settled into my new job, the sun came out, Eurovision happened which is always SO MUCH FUN, and I generally just enjoyed spending time with friends and adjusting to getting up at 6 AM every weekday. Eeek! It did impact on my reading and blogging a little, and I fell behind in my Goodreads challenge, but no doubt I’ll catch up this month as I’m off on holiday this week. Yay!

May 2015 Stats

Total Posts: 17 (-1 from last month)

Books Read: 6 (-1)
The Silvered Heart ~ Katherine Clements
Heir of Fire ~ Sarah J. Maas
The Heir ~ Kiera Cass
Fairest ~ Marissa Meyer
Charlie, Presumed Dead~ Anne Heltzel
The Quality of Silence ~ Rosamund Lupton

The Breakdown:

Genres: YA (5/6); Fantasy (2/6); Thriller (2/6); Historical Fiction (1/6)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (3/6); Digital (3/6); Hardback (0/7); Paperback (3/6); Owned (6/6); Borrowed (0/7)

Most Surprising: Charlie, Presumed Dead (the ending!)
Most Disappointing: Charlie, Presumed Dead (the beginning!)
Most Exciting: The Quality of Silence
Most Swoon-worthy: Ahhh both The Heir & Heir of Fire
Most Beautifully Written: The Quality of Silence

Reviews (5)

  • Twisted Dark by Neil Gibson et al, 2/5 (View)
  • The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements, 4/5 (View)
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R Carey, 4/5 (View)
  • The Heir by Keira Cass, 4/5 (View)
  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer, 4/5 (View)

Friday Features

Guest Posts, Promos and Other Highlights

  • Book Blitz: The Violet Hour (View Post)
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I want to borrow from the library I work in (View Post)
  • Lipsyy Lost & Found Vintage Book Shop Update (View Post)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 06.05.15 (View Post)
  2. This Week in Books 20.05.15 (View Post)
  3. Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads (View Post)

Awards

botm-may15(I know this doesn’t come out until July but I couldn’t wait!)

cotm-may15

mlft-june15

June Releases

Here’s my pick of the top June releases:

junereleases

What are you looking forward to this month?

The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements [Out Tomorrow]

silveredheart
Title: The Silvered Heart
Author: Katherine Clements
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 448 pages
Publication Details: May 7th 2015 by Headline
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

The legendary figure of Kate Ferrars, the infamous highwaywoman, is brought gloriously to life in this gripping tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

‘The distant thrum of galloping hooves conjures nothing but doubt and fear these days.’

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell’s army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.

But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it’s an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they’re caught, there’s only one way it can end…

Review

The Silvered Heart was my first Katherine Clements read, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Lady Katherine is an intriguing character. She is an orphaned heiress who has been used to the finer things in life. But when it comes time to do her duty and marry for the sake of her family, everything she knows is taken from her.

She must leave her beloved mansion for Ware Park, where her husband Thomas, who appears cold and incapable of kindness, basically leaves her to rot. With the state of affairs as they are, Thomas is constantly away, and money is non-existent, turning Ware Park into a run-down, neglected palace, where workers go unpaid and starvation is just around the corner.

I felt for Katherine a lot, and found myself completely engrossed in her story. Her marriage was entirely love-less, and she goes from riches to rags and does it all alone, with the exception of friend and maid, Rachel.

I was very wary of Katherine as a heroine, though. She never seemed to know what she wanted, and a lot of the decisions she made drove me mad! I found her quite shallow and petulant at times, and it annoyed me that she thought she was cleverer than she actually was, but it made for a thrilling read.

I loved that she became this great, almost mythological figure of a cold-hearted highway woman, and all the excitement and danger that came along with it.

The Silvered Heart is an epic tale of betrayal, double-crosses, plots and politics, and one that really gives us a vivid picture of that period in history. It’s also the story of one woman who will do anything to get what she thinks she deserves. A great read!

unicorn rating 4

The Silvered Heart is available in paperback from Waterstones tomorrow!