Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: A Noel Killing

A Noël Killing (Verlaque and Bonnet, #8)

A Noël Killing
M L Longworth

Examining Magistrate Antoine Verlaque isn't a big fan of Christmas. But in Aix-en-Provence, residents are getting reading to celebrate the holidays. Verlaque and his wife Marine have been invited to attend a Christmas carol sing-along at the local Anglican Church. Marine is hoping it will get her husband in the festive spirit. But when an American expat, Cole Hainsby dies at the dinner afterward, Verlaque finds he is back in work mode. Now he is faced with a long list of suspects all members of the local church and community. Was Cole's travel business having money problems, or was it something more complex. That is what Verlaque is determined to find out, hopefully before Christmas day.

Set in Provence, A Noël Killing is like a fine wine, something to be savored. With a cast of entertaining characters preparing for the biggest holiday of the year it's hard not to be envious of their surroundings and their choice of food and drink which Longworth showcases throughout. By the time I finished this book, I felt like I had been transported to a dazzling place full of characters I had come to know and love. There was also a satisfying plot and a little romance on the side.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Review: Been There, Married That

Been There, Married That

Been There, Married That
Gigi Levangie

Agnes Murphy Nash is a Hollywood wife, married to movie producer Trevor Nash. She should be happy. She's just published a new book. But, Trevor is having second thoughts about their marriage, catching Agnes by surprise. The divorce that follows is chaotic and threatens to separate Agnes from her daughter Pep if she doesn't pull herself together and take control of the situation.

I was expecting, Been There, Married That to be a funny novel, if not hilarious, and while there were interesting and entertaining bits that I enjoyed, it just somehow wasn't what I'd expected. Maybe I didn't connect enough with the characters. It is still a fast-paced, easy read that fans of the author may enjoy. I found myself wondering if this one might be better on screen than on the page. For me, it was one of those books that I didn't love but, I also didn't hate it. I was somewhere in the middle on this one.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Review: Golden in Death

Golden in Death (In Death, #50)
Golden in Death
J.D. Robb

Lt. Eve Dallas is faced with a case she needs to solve quickly. Someone is sending packages filled with chemicals to select individuals. Once the package is opened, a toxic fume is released, killing the victim in a matter of minutes. Dallas and her team need to stop the killer before he or she has a chance to spread havoc in the city. But is this a case of terrorism or someone with a grudge or someone looking for revenge? Dallas will stop at nothing to find out.

Golden in Death is a fast-paced story that I enjoyed. This was my first time reading something in this series, and it is clear that the author knows what works. In fact, it took me a minute to realize that J.D. Robb is a pen name used by Nora Roberts. So naturally with so many books in the series and a talented writer like Roberts one would expect nothing less. Furthermore, the characters were well developed, and the story had a good sense of place. I think fans of this series will be entertained.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Review: Kingdom of The Blind

Kingdom of the Blind (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #14)

Kingdom Of The Blind
Louise Penny

Armand Gamache has received a strange letter directing him to an abandoned farmhouse just outside of the village of Three Pines, where he lives. Arriving at the house in a snowstorm, he's surprised to find one of his neighbors, Myra who owns the bookstore in Three Pines, and a young man from Montreal. Waiting in the derelict house is a notary who informs all three they've been named liquidators in the will of Bertha Baumgartner. The only thing is, they didn't know Mrs. Baumgartner. They can't imagine why they have been named in the will instead of the Baumgartner children.

When Anthony Baumgartner, the eldest son of Mrs. Baumgartner, is found dead in the farmhouse, Gamache wants to know what happened. Although he's been suspended from his job as head of Sûreté du Québec due to his handling of a drugs case months before, he is determined to find out what's behind this death.

Kingdom of The Blind is full of interesting local characters who are eager and willing to help Gamache solve his case. Whether that means providing information or a meal by the fire, they seem to know how to love and protect the intimate nature of Three Pines. 

This review was originally written for City Book Review by me.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Review: Made in Sweden

Made in Sweden: 25 ideas that created a country

Made in Sweden
Elisabeth Åsbrink

Like many people, I probably had a distorted view of Sweden. I thought of minimalist fashion trends, Ikea furniture, and beautiful music, or if I had recently watched a Swedish television Krimi, I thought of it as a place with too many sleazy motorcycle gangs or petty drug dealers. But, Made in Sweden aims to provide a more accurate look at what makes Sweden the community and nation it is today. The author seeks to explain that while we might think of the country as a tolerant, open, and friendly one, that wasn't always the case, and with the rise of the far-right may become less so in the future.

This is an intriguing and well-written book which covers 25 topics that help shed light on what it means to be Swedish and how the country developed into the nation it is today. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about Carl von Linnaeus, whose classification system of nature is still with us today. I was also a little shocked to learn that between 1928 and 1976, around 63,000 Swedish citizens were sterilized to preserve what was most desirable in the population.

As the book shows, the making of a nation is something that happens over time and a process that is continually evolving. For those who want to see another side of this interesting country, this is a good place to start.

Thanks to LibraryThing and Scribe Publications for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Review: The Caribbean Irish

Caribbean Irish, The

The Caribbean Irish
Miki Garcia

Before I picked up this book, I had no idea the Irish were among the earliest settlers in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Irish is a fascinating look at a somewhat forgotten period of history. During the 1600s, as the British set out to colonize the West Indies, they relied heavily on the Irish as a source of indentured labor. But by the 1800s, the Irish had all but disappeared as their labor was replaced by African slaves.

It is hard to imagine life during Cromwell's reign as he developed a policy to rid Ireland of the Irish, particularly by encouraging the transplantation of those considered undesirable. He particularly singled out political prisoners, or the unfortunate like orphans and widows or anyone at the wrong place at the wrong time. And while some Irish did manage to become planters and businessmen, this account looks primarily at the role of servants, and how their experiences contrasted with that of slaves brought to the island as sugar production became more widespread. Although both lived and worked in deplorable conditions, the indentured servants had at least the hope of being free at the end of their contracts, provided they lived that long, unlike slaves who were kept in bondage without any of hope of freedom. And it seems that by the 1800s as their labor was less in demand, they managed to find other opportunities outside the islands.

I found this to be an engaging account of those who often didn't have a voice during British global expansion into the West Indies. And I liked the fact that this book made me aware of a part of history that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Review: The Lying Room

The Lying Room

The Lying Room
Nicci French

Neve Connolly is having an affair with her boss Saul. One morning she gets a text message to meet him at his London flat. Arriving at his place, she is shocked to find him dead. What does she do? She cleans the crime scene, hoping to erase any trace that she's ever been there. After all, she has her husband and three children to think about and her job. After telling numerous lies to the police, hoping to protect herself, she realizes she has to find out who killed Saul and why, if she wants to avoid being caught in her tangled web of lies.

The Lying Room is an exciting mystery with a lot of twists and turns. That alone makes this one worth reading. But the long drawn out chapters, unfortunately, made this seem like a slow-moving story. I also felt the last chapter was a bit odd, and it felt like it dangled a bit in the end as an afterthought. I think parts of it should have been integrated into the story much earlier but, that being said, the authors provided an entertaining mystery that I enjoyed.

Thanks to LibraryThing and William Morrow for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.