Sunday, 19 February 2017

Murder on the Moor - Julianna Deering

When old school friend, Beaky Bloodworth calls upon Drew and Madeline to investigate the death of a vicar, they take moments to consider and take up the challenge.

Setting off for the Yorkshire moors and his friends home, Bloodworth Park Lodge, with a mystery that has little clues, Drew only knows that he is determined to help his friend.

Meeting Beaky's wife, Sabrina, is a blast from the past and Drew wonders what the pretty socialite, who loved London life, is doing married to a man from Yorkshire. Regardless, mysterious events surround the brooding moors and its residents - sheep killed, talk of the berghaus and possible poachers - all of which keeps Drew's mind occupied. What or who is causing all this commotion?

And then another murder takes place.

This time, an elderly woman who, like the vicar, was harmless and kept themselves to themselves. What is the link between these two benign people? How is Bloodworth Park connected? It's a close-knit community in town of Bunting's Nest. Anyone could be a suspect yet Drew is drawn back to Sabrina. The danger is closing in quickly around the Lodge. Can Drew discover who the murderer is before he or she strikes again?

Another alluring and charming murder-mystery from Deering. Drew and Madeline Farthing are a couple akin to Christie's Tommy and Tuppence with an American flair (Madeline is from the US). A complicated plot with quite a few characters. However, it's easy to follow and the subtly of sub-plots carries the story forward. All theories of 'whodunit' are tested throughout. With a quintessentially British feel, this is an enjoyable, satisfying novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Bethany House Publishers as part of their blogger program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tarquin Hall – The Case of the Missing Servant (A Vish Puri Investigation)


It’s not very often I finish a book and feel bereft. As I started the final chapter, a sadness crept in as I knew that I would come to the end of an amazing novel.
Vish Puri, private investigator extraordinaire (he has the awards to prove it), has been tasked with proving the innocence of a renowned lawyer. A young girl, employed to carry out household tasks suddenly disappears. A body is found, badly beaten. Is it her?
With little to go on, Puri and his trustworthy, hardworking staff investigate what happened to the woman named Mary. Is she the body that has been found, that has conveniently been cremated? The autopsy photo is blurred, yet positive identification has been made and Puri’s client is arrested.
As a well sought after detective agency, Puri is also tasked with finding out more information on a prospective groom. The bride-to-be’s grandfather doesn’t trust him and wants Puri to make this case a top priority. Yes, he’s handsome, works hard, wealthy – but what’s really wrong with him? After all, his granddaughter is a few years older than the prospective groom, why would he marry her?
Can Vish’s team find enough damming material of unsuitability for one case and convincing information of innocence for another? And, if that wasn’t enough someone fires a shot early one morning at the investigator. Sadly, for him, his chili plant bore the brunt of the attack. It’s on his mind to look into that but ‘mummy-ji’ steps in and does a little snooping on his behalf – much to his chagrin.
From the opening sentence, I knew this was going to be a work of art. Hall’s descriptions of Delhi is so good you can hear the sounds of the streets as you read, imagine the smells, feel the heat. Vish Puri is an instantly likable character and you will wish him to succeed. The three plots are interwoven so intricately, yet there is no confusion. Each case reaches a satisfactory conclusion and Vish and his dependable team have righted the streets of Delhi once again – for now.
A highly recommended read for fans of mysteries, good fiction and memorable characters. Visit tarquinhall.com

Monday, 16 January 2017

An Uncommon Courtship (Hawthorn House Series) – Kristi Ann Hunter

When Lord Trent Hawthorne stopped to investigate the singing he heard from abandoned ruins, the last thing he expected was to spend a night with the woman seemingly trapped there and least of all to propose to her soon after 'escaping'.

It wasn't his intention to marry Adelaide, but he didn't want her reputation to become a disgrace. Trent has a carefree life – after all he’s not going to inherit the title of ‘Duke'. (Thankfully that honor and serious job fell to his big brother Griffith.)

Adelaide Bell, middle daughter of Lord and Lady Crampton was used to being ignored. Her mother lavished all of her attention on her elder sister Helena. So, when confronted with the prospect of a loveless marriage, she simply went along with it, as she did with most things whilst growing up.

Moving to Trent’s London home, is a completely new and almost unnerving experience for Adelaide. Although, her new husband refers to the residence as ‘theirs’, she still feels a stranger in her ‘home’, especially with the familiarity of the staff – something her mother would never have stood for.

In a bid to make the marriage work, Trent suggests a scheme that he hopes will rectify a difficult situation. However, the ‘ton’ are renowned for gossip and the unexpected marriage of the Duke of Riverton’s younger brother is a source most fruitful.

And then Trent’s mother finally hears of the news. Lady Blackstone is astounded at her son’s behavior and knowing what Adelaide’s mother is like, takes the young inexperienced (with London society) under her wing.

Will this marriage of responsibility turn into one filled with understanding, compassion and love? And with a scheming mother who is still looking out for her eldest daughter, can Adelaide truly be happy with life and it's expectations?

Whilst a robust novel, I found the first few chapters almost repetitive in that the main characters were both foisted into a marriage that neither wanted. Both wanted to be in a union that was based on love. However, once past this, the development of these characters and their circumstances is rich and absorbing.

There are touches of humor throughout and whilst part of series, it still read well as a standalone novel. Descriptions of London and it's High Society, as well as the hierarchy, are detailed with being laborious. Some may find the reference to the consummation of their marriage too much for a novel such as this but it is done tastefully and is something I would expect in a 'marriage of convenience'.

Overall, I enjoyed this regency romance and am glad to have discovered Hunter. I am looking forward to backtracking and reading the first few books in what I'm sure is an enjoyable series. A recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, as part of their blogging program in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Angel of Forest Hill - Cindy Woodsmall

Rose Kurtz, quiet and unsure of herself, yet hard-working, has been asked by her Bishop to travel to Forest Hill to help a family. Lost in her thoughts when asked, she only half listened to the request but accepted that she had little choice.

With no fond farewell from her family, Rose arrives at the home of Joel Dienner. There she finds that she’s not helping in the way she expected. Thrust in to the role of surrogate mother to a newborn and two boisterous toddlers who constantly seek their mother, Rose must buckle down and deal with the situation before her. Her familiar prayer, “Dear God, if it’s not a bother, show me what to do, and let Your truth set me free," gives her the strength to do just that.

However, as a single woman, Rose cannot stay in the house with a widowed man. Joel’s father comes up with a solution that in his grief, Joel agrees to but not before asking Rose what her expectations are regarding their marriage of convenience. Kindness is all she requires.

Time passes and Joel finds himself in love with Rose. But can they move forward with so much of the past still surrounding them – the death of his wife, the unhappy familial home life of Rose – and now Joel’s mother-in-law has spoken to the Bishop about a personal situation.


Rose is horrified, Joel angry. Now there is talk of an annulment. Can they overcome this latest obstacle and have a happy Christmas?
A short and sweet romance with a Christmas background. I wished it were a little longer but that’s only because Cindy creates characters that have so much depth and realism. Her ability to write an absorbing, warming story is exceptional. It’s an easy read and fans of Amish fiction and/or Cindy Woodsmall will not be disappointed. A highly recommended read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books as part of their blogger program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Doodletopia: Manga Style - Christopher Hart

In the second book of the 'Doodletopia' series, the talented Christopher Hart explains in simple yet detailed fashion of how to draw manga cartoons.

From humans to animals, there are signature effects and styles that are adhered to so as to create memorable manga characters. Besides showing how to draw a face on figure, Hart shows how to draw the character in situ, show facial expressions, actions and so on.

The book ventures on to other areas such as mazes and creating a page of doodles - this is where you draw tiny manga icons.

Hart's easy going style is very encouraging. Even if you have little artistic ability, you will be able to follow his examples with ease and little fear.

I've wanted to be able to draw cartoon type figures for a while and Hart has given me both a boost and the confidence to try. It's a step by step process but he allows you to be in charge of creativity - the scenarios your figures may find themselves in - and throughout the book he emphasizes to have fun. It's a great start to creating your own manga type characters as well as make stationery or bookmarks. A recommended read

I was given a copy of this book as part of the Blogging For Books program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Wish - Beverley Lewis

Leona Speicher and Gloria Gingerich became sister-friends as soon as Gloria and her family moved to Lancaster County.

Their arrival was just what Leona was looking for. Whilst she loved her family, she felt like a lonely child as her brother was older and married. Her parents were quiet, unassuming people. Unlike Gloria's parents, Jeannie and Joe, who seemed so much more alive and fun than her own.

When they unexpectedly leave Colerain, Leona is devastated and lost. How can they up and leave just like that? What happened and more importantly, would she ever see her sister again?

Tom Ebersol, the Deacons son, is certainly aware of one of the reasons for the Gingerich's sudden departure but it's not his place to say. And with Gloria's brother Adam out of the way, his deep affection for Leona can now be developed. But does her heart already belong to the other man. And what of  Orchard John, Leona's cousin? His heart was certainly captured by the pretty, freckled faced Gloria. 

Three years later and Leona doesn't think too much of her lost friendship and sister. Yet there are moments of sorrow when memories would flood back. Then suddenly she receives a letter from Gloria. The young woman has finally got in touch.

With sudden thought and action, Leona finds herself on her way to visit Gloria. She's turned 'fancy'. Will Leona find the same, sweet, girl in Arkansas? In the meantime, Tom is worried about this journey. What does it mean for them as a couple. Will her feelings for Adam resurface? In between their prayers to God for guidance there is the underlying wish for knowing what is best for those concerned.

This story of friendship, love, loyalty and ultimately faith has been beautifully told. Whilst I found the opening chapters stilted (in terms of flow of words, present day and memories), it soon became an engrossing novel. Lewis' characters are well rounded, thoughtful and real. It's an inspirational premise where it shows that someone's wish and faith for another person can allow them to do good. Leona's heart is true in helping her sister/friend return to the People but unbeknown to herself, it allowed her to see others, including her parents, in a different light. A recommended read for fans of Christian and Amish fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House as part of their bloggers program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fraying the Edge (Book 2) – The Amish of Summer Grove - Cindy Woodsmall

Continuing the absorbing, heart wrenching story from Book 1, Ariana Brenneman's Amish life disappeared in a blink of an eye when it was discovered that she was not the biological daughter of Lovina and Isaac. Now the parents of Skylar Nash have asked that she spend a year with them.

Absorbed into an Englischer world with a dad keen to expand her views, especially questioning her deep faith, Ariana is alone. Well, almost. Quill Schlabach is a childhood friend who lives an Englisch life but past betrayals make Ariana wonder whether she can trust him. Yet in a new world with so many expectations thrown at her – learn to drive (a car), listen to music, watch movies – is she able to get through the next 12 months without some guidance from him?
Skylar’s choice is either rehab or staying with the large Brenneman family. A choice she feels that isn’t one. The prospect of living without her phone and modern comforts is one thing but she’s more hurt by the fact that her parents, especially her mother, seemed to have ‘dropped’ her off with zeal. Having the pure and perfect Ariana is an opportunity to start over. The bigger problem, perhaps, for the young woman is her addiction to prescription drugs and the fear that perhaps she doesn’t belong in either family.  
As the days roll into months, they are both learning how to adjust to their new lives. With one woman having little regard for God and the other with unwavering faith, will they be able to adjust to what is expected of them? For Ariana it's overwhelming but she knows she belongs back in Summer Grove. Skylar is wary of the devotion her new family show to her. But as she works in Ariana’s cafĂ© she feels her attitude softening towards the hardworking family.
Very much a set up for the next in the series this story is still filled with deep, meaningful characters, descriptions and words. Woodsmall’s ability to create a fictional world where the reader is instantly interested in their lives is outstanding. Whilst the author hasn’t delved deeply into addiction and the stress of going clean, it’s still paramount that Skylar is suffering.

Questioning faith and questioning the merits of materialism is the main theme in the next chapter of this series and whilst I found the Nicholas (Skylar's dad) overbearing in his quest to 'modernize' his real daughter, it was obvious he had little knowledge of being in an Amish community and didn't seem to want to understand it. In turn, will Isaac appreciate that his daughter may have her own opinions?
A thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Summer Grove series. With a few subplots weaved in, this story will not disappoint. A highly recommended read especially fans of Amish and/or Christian Fiction.         
I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not required to give a positive review.