Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal By Innocence
Agatha Christie

Arthur Calgary has been away on an expedition outside of the country and as a result, missed the murder trial of Mrs. Argyle, a middle age woman at her home known as Sunny Point. Her adopted son, Jack was accused of the murder and sentenced to prison, where he died from pneumonia. Jack always claimed he had an alibi for the time of death, but he couldn't prove it.

Arthur Calgary realizes upon his return that he was the alibi and now he feels duty bound to clear Jack's name. Although he expects the family to feel joy and relief on his news, he is instead met with annoyance and fear. If Jack wasn't the murderer, then someone else in the family likely is. Not only does Calgary open a can of worms with his revelation but the killer may strike again.

What's not to like about Agatha Christie, right? Her books always manage to provide a satisfying mystery no matter what the setting or crime. Ordeal By Innocence doesn't disappoint.

Thanks to Goodreads and HarperCollins for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review: My Dear Hamilton

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

My Dear Hamilton
Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

This work of historical fiction follows the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton from her childhood years on her families frontier farm in New York through her marriage to Alexander Hamilton and during her years as a widow. This fascinating book relies on thousands of documents left behind by Mr. Hamilton giving readers a glimpse into numerous aspects of their lives and the difficulties of building a new nation.

The first thing that struck me about this work is the pace. It seems to convey such urgency and movement that made it hard to put down. The early life on the frontier during the revolutionary war is portrayed as a time of great upheaval and sacrifice, but Eliza comes across as a woman ready to play a role supporting the revolutionary cause anyway she can. And one is struck by the warm, caring atmosphere of her family compared to unfortunate circumstances of Alexander Hamilton's. No doubt this shaped her ability to cope with the difficulties she faced in life. I particularly liked that the authors tried to imagine how she felt about and dealt with the betrayal by her husband, death of her children and political developments that didn't always benefit her family or their views.

This book reminded me that I should be reading more historical fiction. Hopefully, I will find time to read the other bestseller by these authors, America's First Daughter.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: The Italian Party

The Italian Party

The Italian Party
Christina Lynch

This sparkling jewel, set in the 1950's follows Scottie and Michael, two naive Americans who move to Italy. Michael has a job to sell tractors in Siena, although in reality he is secretly working for the CIA. Scottie his new wife is unaware of his real job, and like Michael she too has something to hide. Mainly the fact that she isn't, as Michael thinks, an heiress with a large trust fund waiting for her. Not only do this couple not know each other particularly well when they arrive in Italy, they also do not know much about Italians. This could be a problem for Michael since his task is to prevent the communist mayor from being re-elected. He will also need to find some informants as soon as possible. All seems to be going well until the one informant he manages to engage goes missing. It may take all the social skills of Scottie to find out what happened to him.

This clever, fun novel is timely and poignant reminding the reader that trying to sway elections is nothing new. For Michael and Scottie, politics in 1950's Italy might be a lot more subtle and complex than either bargained for but it doesn't stop them from enjoying all that Bella Italia has to offer. I loved this one so much I hated for it to end.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Review: The House of Rougeaux

House of Rougeaux

The House of Rougeaux
Jenny Jaeckel

The House of Rougeaux follows the descendants of two children who are left motherless on a sugar plantation on the Caribbean island of Martinique in 1785 up until the mid-1960's. I loved the first section of this book which follows Abeje, who eventually becomes a healer and her brother Adunbi.

I immediately felt something for these two characters. The hardships and unfortunate circumstances of there lives pulled at my heart. The author had a wonderful ability to transport me to the Caribbean and the reality of their everyday lives. But, I didn't understand why the story jumped from the 1800's to descendants living in the 1950's in the United States and Canada. I think I would have enjoyed this book much more if it had been chronological in order or even if it had omitted the second and third chapter. I was also not a big fan of extremely long chapters often followed by a very short one. It made the story seem unbalanced to me. I liked the ending of the book which followed one descendant Eleanor, who returned to Martinique to find out more about her ancestors, Abeje and Adunbi. I think the author has a gift and talent for creating beautiful prose and being able to draw a reader into the characters. But, I was disappointed with the structure chosen for the work.

Thanks to Library Thing for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls
Simone St. James

In 1950, Idlewild Hall in Vermont was a school for wayward girls, complete with its own ghost and sinister atmosphere when one of the girls went missing. In 2014 Fiona Sheridan a freelance journalist is preoccupied with the restoration of Idlewild Hall mainly because her sister's body was discovered murdered on the grounds in the 1990's. Alternating between the past and present the reader is presented with background stories of the former students and with Fiona's attempts to find out what really happened to her sister, the other girls of Idlewild and the resident ghost. She would also like to know why the new owners would want to reopen a place so tainted with history and ghosts of the past.

I found this fast pace, cleverly written tale fascinating. I can't remember the last time I stayed up half the night to finish something so good. If you're looking for a ghostly mystery with a few twists, this is the one to read.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: The Little French Bistro

The Little French Bistro

The Little French Bistro
Nina George

Marianne is in her sixties, and she's been married to Lothar as long as she can remember. But it hasn't been a happy marriage, and while the couple is in Paris on holiday, Marianne decides to end her life by jumping into the Seine. Things don't go as planned, however, and a stranger pulls her to safety, and she is transported to hospital. Instead of recovering there and returning home to Germany with Lothar she makes a fateful decision to walk out and find her way to the sea. She has always wanted to see the ocean, and she's decided it will be a good place to end her journey in this world.

Striking out towards the coast and ending up in Brittany she is taken in by the scenery and the people. Finding temporary employment in cafe, it becomes more and more difficult for Marianne to end her life. In fact, the end has become her beginning as she finds friendship, love, happiness and belonging in the small harbor town of Kerdruc. Something she has never known before but, will she ever escape the past or will it creep up on her when she least expects it?

This warmhearted, charming story was a pleasure to read. Filled with the sites and sounds of an ancient land, known to locals as the end of the world. Marianne is a captivating character who has the will to follow her dreams even when life seems at the lowest point; reminding readers that it's never too late to dream.

Thanks to Crown Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Review: The French Girl

The French Girl

The French Girl
Lexie Elliott

 A decade ago, when six college friends were having a break at a French farmhouse a local girl, Severine disappeared. When her body is found in a well, the French police arrive in London to question, once again the group of friends. So many years have passed, and most haven't given Severine a second thought, except Kate Channing, mainly because Severine haunts her daily. When the police seem to suspect that Kate may have something to do with the murder, she realizes that her career as a fledgling headhunter in London could be damaged if the rumors spread. But, if she didn't do it who did? What about the others? Did they have motive and opportunity for murder? It's hard to believe that the dark heart of a murderer could exist within this group, and yet it must.

The French Girl was a terrific read. I felt like I knew the characters by the end of the story. This one was superbly written with a great atmosphere and an ending that was not quite what I had expected. I also loved that the author followed the characters after the murderer had been uncovered. I didn't feel that I was left hanging in the end and it provided a satisfying sense of closure to the story. Hopefully, this debut novel will lead to more exciting stories from a talented writer.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.