Review: The Secret of India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen


What a fun story! I was not expecting this at all.

Two years ago Sophia Elliot received a letter from Anthony Blake that changed her whole world. She was stunned and hurt and never thought she’d see him again. But when her travels bring her in the path of Anthony, she tries to keep her heart hardened to him, but it’s just not possible. She loves him and knew he still loved her, so she was always trying to get a rise out at him. It was cute to watch as he suffered so much.

Anthony has regretted leaving Sophia, but he had no choice. He left to protect her and her family. When she shows up on his doorstep, he tries to maintain his cover, but that doesn’t seem to work out as well as he’d hoped. He loved her with all his heart and knew he broke her heart when he left. But when her life is put in danger, he has to solve this investigation and fast, or else she’ll be taken away from him permanently.

I loved Anthony and Sophia. They were the perfect team to solve this. She was determined to help, even thought he wanted her far away from danger. She knew she could help so she jumped right in. Stubborn girl. ūüôā

I thought this story would be just a second chance romance, or sorts, but it was so much more. It was filled with lies, intrigue, kidnapping and murder, plus a nice little romance tossed in.

~Melpomene

Buy The Secret of India Orchid: http://amzn.to/2vYKitA

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks.  When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Most of us are familiar with that eerie little rhyme, maybe not being completely aware of the meaning. ¬†Some of us even know the story behind it, knowing that it’s based on a true crime occurring in the late 1800s. ¬†But have you ever wondered about the dynamics behind the family tragedy?

When Lizzie discovers first her father and then her stepmother brutally murdered, everyone immediately feels sympathy and concern for her. ¬†To have witnessed the aftermath of such a gruesome scene surely must have been a shock. ¬†As time goes on, however, events come to light casting doubt on her innocence. ¬†And the family itself surely wasn’t a happy little group. ¬†There’s enough suspicion to go around. ¬†Was it Lizzie? ¬†Or was it the mysterious man sent by her uncle? ¬†Or maybe one of her father’s business associates?

The story weaves itself back and forth between the day of the crime, the days leading up to the murders, and the aftermath. ¬†It’s fascinating for the criminal investigation procedures of the time if nothing else. ¬†The author does a great job of creating an entirely believable story that very well could be the true story behind an unsolved crime. ¬†And it absolutely made me want to read more about it!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  See What I Have Done

 

Review: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

30037263-1This was like some patchwork quilt that you’ve imagined in your mind. You can see just how beautiful and perfect it will turn out. In your mind’s eyes, all the colours and patterns mesh perfectly and you can follow it through with your eye, each sweep of you vision leads you to a more perfect piece…and it’s not only beautiful but you know it’s warm and comfortable as well.

However, once you actually sit down to join all the colours and bits together, you completely lose the vision and once you finally finish it, you can see all the stitches, and not in a good way. The colours don’t flow, they clash. It’s not warm and comfortable at all. It’s a bit thin and scratchy.

Do you think I am happy to write a review like this? Errrrr…no! I wanted to love this book. My first Beatriz Williams book. I started this book and NEEDED to love it. I so enjoyed it so much at the start. But as it went on it just went way off track for me. I became completely lost along the way. Bits that were meant to tie it all together were just thrown in to complete a picture…but you CAN’T just throw bits in…you have to explain how you go there…and it has to make sense! You can’t teach a Maths class by giving a final number and expecting the students to know how you reached that number! You can’t present a problem in a novel, then some farfetched solution and expect the reader to be able to sort it out either.

The ending wasn’t an ending at all…it was a rushed (felt like it) positioning of several characters that you really don’t know how they ended up there. I am guessing there’s another novel in the works and the ending was a set up for that novel…BUT STILL…you can’t just leap forward and put characters in sudden situations. Situations, that you’ve hoped the entire novel was working towards, but suddenly happen…it’s like they jumped from point A to B to C and then are now all on F skipping over D and E…

So gutted….

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

Review: The Nazi’s Daughter by Tim Murgatroyd

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Books like this one are right up my alley. ¬†Historical fiction, World War II era, a bit of suspense thrown in…these are the stories that stick with me.

Elise has a promising career as a ballerina. ¬†She lives to dance, allowing herself to escape from the fact that her father is a high-ranking Nazi. ¬†She’s somewhat of a disappointment to her family as she chooses to immerse herself in her career rather than fall in line with their Nazi beliefs. ¬†When an injury forces her to take a break from dancing, she finds refuge on a small island.

It’s here that she meets Pieter. ¬†Instantly attracted to him, she resists for as long as possible. ¬†But when their chemistry becomes impossible to ignore, she finds herself in a precarious position as the daughter of a Nazi. ¬†Pieter, the man she loves, is part of the Resistance. ¬†Will it be possible to keep her two worlds separate?

This is, to me, the best and most compelling part of this story. ¬†There’s more, though. ¬†Fast forward to present day New York City. ¬†Jenni is suddenly and unexpectedly the benefactor of her deceased grandmother’s estate. ¬†Because she didn’t know much about her, and because her own life is in shambles, she immerses herself in grandma Elise’s past. ¬†What secrets will she uncover?

A great story for fans of historical fiction with some romance and a bit of mystery as well.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: ¬†The Nazi’s Daughter

Review: Choices by J.E. Laufer

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I’m always looking for great historical fiction and nonfiction to read. ¬†And the World War II/Holocaust era is one of my favorites to read about. ¬†So it was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled across this true story.

The time is different, but the situation is very similar. Just because the Holocaust was over doesn’t mean that Jewish families were suddenly safe. ¬†When Russia invaded Hungary in 1956, many feared that it was starting all over again. ¬†So families made the decision to flee the country, leaving behind everything they knew and loved.

This is the remarkable tale of the journey faced by the author’s parents. ¬†It’s a great read for young adults, providing names and faces to historical facts making the story come alive. ¬†And it’s quick and easy to read, guaranteed to keep the attention of younger readers.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Choices

Review ~ The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.

img_0335Wow, where do I even start? ¬† You know that moment where you have a genre, or even an idea of a genre, that you really fancy reading? ¬†Well, you finally find it and hope that it delivers, even if it is just a fluffy entertaining read… and it does… In fact, it more than delivers, it smacks you and brings you back for another smack! ¬† This is a bit like how I felt when I recently finished reading The Alice Network.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to read some good French Resistance/WWI/WWII fiction, and after many a “wasted” hour spent trawling Amazon, GoodReads, et al, I found this title and thought I’ll give it a go. ¬†I didn’t read any reviews (no, that’s not a hint that you should stop reading this one!), and I delved straight in.

Now, I am going to warn you that this story is split/dual narrative and timeline/setting.  I know some people find that really jarring, but here, it seems to work well.  We have Charlie in 1947, looking for her cousin who disappeared in WWII, and then we have Eve, in 1915, who is approached to become a spy for the French Resistance in German occupied France.

Charlie is given Eve’s name as someone who may be able to help her, and therefore goes to find the now older spy. ¬†From there begins a journey that neither character, or reader, could have predicted.

Now, I haven’t read any of Quinn’s previous novels (from what I’ve seen, Quinn seems to stick to Roman and medieval style Historical Fiction), so I had no expectations of her writing style, characterization, pace, etc etc… ¬†The writing in The Alice Network is stark, to the point and realistic. ¬†There is little unnecessary flowery language that tends to get used as filler. ¬†The characters, for the most part, are three dimensional, believable, and not cliched. ¬†I even really enjoyed the side characters, and each one could have easily warranted their own story in another book.

What I liked best about this book is that Quinn doesn’t patronize the reader; the actions of the characters are genuine and realistic. ¬†While there were a couple of times that I would have taken a particular story thread in a different direction, overall I was really satisfied with the eventual traveled path.

I would have no hesitation is giving this novel 5 stars, and/or recommending it (as I have been) to anyone that likes to read.   See for yourself and pick up a copy!

~ Pegasus.

The Alice Network

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey #2) by Deanna Raybourn

silent-sancI didn’t like this one nearly as much as I did the first book in the Lady Grey series. I have to admit, I started to give it a mediocre rating. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it, I just felt it was missing some of the charm and the prepossessing nature of the first novel. Let’s also be honest and admit I felt some of the banter between Ms. Grey and Brisbane was missing…or there wasn’t enough of it. Julia Grey seemed a bit fickle at times, wanting her independence and then being a bit disappointed when Brisbane didn’t pressure her or demand answers. However, I have to be honest and say that’s often how it is in real life, is it not?

However, the few talks that Julia has with a few characters at the end really made me love this book. There really was some profound tidbits in there that made me sit back, stop the book, and marvel at how even a light, fun read can make you ponder life.

Now living in England, stories such as these really are a delight since I am familiar with many of the places that are mentioned. I was often able to see that some life long traditions and some favourite places of the characters are now some of my favourite traditions and places of my very own.

There were several storylines going on in this novel, so I shall leave the description and plot summary to the book’s cover and to other reviewers, and, instead, leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from this one…

I took a sip of my tea and averted my eyes. The tea was bitter now, and I put it down again.

‘Ah, the taste of regret,’ Magda said softly. ‘You wish you had not come. But you did, and you must let me finish the tale I have begun.’

Those are facts. Are they the truth? No, for they do not tell you of the heart, and that is where truth lives.

It is astonishing how words can cut one to the quick and yet leave no outward trace. One would have expected a lash like that to leave a mark.

Life is either far too short or far too long to make yourself miserable.

‘But surely such things are better left unknown, I too have the curious cousins, but we do not speak of them.’
‘That is the difficulty, my dear. In your family you do not speak of them. In my family, we celebrate them. In Italy, one must always be conscious of la bella figura, of presenting one’s best self. Among the Marches, we please ourselves and the devil take the rest.’

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn