First line: One morning at the beginning of 2019, when I was in my London flat, the telephone rang.
Lady Anne Glenconner, lady in waiting to Princess Margaret, led a
spectacular life. She lived through the Second World War, carried the
train of Queen Elizabeth at her coronation and married to an eccentric
aristocrat. In her memoir she takes us behind the scenes of important
events in the British monarchy and her life. She has many ups and downs
but stays strong through them all.
My Thoughts: After watching The Crown I have become fascinated by Princess Margaret. I knew very little about her but came to love her wild side and the way she stirred up the monarchy. When I saw Lady Glenconner’s book on Netgalley I immediately had to request it.
The writing is very simple. It is almost like
having a conversation with the woman herself. It flows so easily and is
a lot of fun to read. You can feel her emotions as you read along. I
loved hearing her memories about life with the royal princesses. I was
shocked as she discussed her marriage. Her husband sounds like a very
difficult man to be around but that she stuck it out shows her devotion
and will to commit to her promises.
I loved looking for pictures
as I was reading. And I found the pictures at the end delightful. It
was nice to put faces to the names. Mustique looks like paradise. I have
never visited the Caribbean but this definitely makes me want to take a
The one thing I was missing was more insights into the
lives of the Queen and Margaret. They appear and play important parts in
her story but I expected more from reading the blurb.
FYI: If you love The Crown then this is a good follow up read.
First line: “What do you mean she’s missing?”
When one of their friends goes missing they are all shocked but Elise
does not believe that Julie is dead. Even after a year and a funeral she
still holds out hope that she will return. Then suddenly after two
years she reappears with no memory of what happened to her.
the hopes of learning what happened and reconnecting the friends decide
to get together for a long weekend in a swanky new hotel in the
mountains. Upon arrival they notice that something is wrong with Julie.
She looks different. She acts different. But no one wants to bring up
these changes. As the weekend continues Elise starts noticing strange
happenings around the hotel. She cannot decide if it’s her imagination
or something truly odd is occurring.
My Thoughts: I do not know how to feel about this book. I like it but something is not sitting well with me too. At the beginning I compared it to The Shining and Pet Sematary but as the story progressed it verged away from this. I liked the little hints of creepiness. I loved the strange hotel. But the ending was just not what I expected. It became more gory than spooky. And the final chapter was just kinda dumb.
The characters were a little
bland. I liked Elise. I could relate to her. But I got two of the
friends constantly confused and the fact that their names both start
with M made it even more confusing.
FYI: A good start for a debut author.
First Line: The
first thing Silverfish had learned on board the Brackish was how to hold a knife.
has spent seven years on a ship working off the debt her parents sold her to
cover. Just a few days before she is due
to be released she rescues a man from the sea.
For her kindness he offers her the chance to get revenge on the people
who have wronged her.
As their scheme progresses she becomes entangled with the
son of the wealthy merchant they intend to bring down. The more she learns about him the harder it
becomes to follow through with their plans.
My Thoughts: This is a gender swap retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It has a stunning cover and a fun plot. It is always fun to read a retelling especially if it was done well. I liked Amaya and Cayo’s interactions. I wish that there was more of it. Hopefully in the second book there will more. It ended with a big cliffhanger! I am looking forward to the sequel coming out next year!
I actually received this as the book from the Owl Crate subscription box. This was my first time participating and I loved the experience. For a fee of $29.99 plus shipping I got a box filled with bookish goodies and a new young adult book. Usually the books are signed by the author, have exclusive covers, and letters from the author. Also inside was an exclusive Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix mug, an enamel pin, The Hobbit banner, a candle, Crooked Kingdom socks, and a tiny mirror pillbox.
It was fun to splurge on something like this. I love to read YA books and I have lots of fandoms. They have new selections every month and several special edition boxes throughout the year. Plus they have added an Owl Crate Jr. edition for younger readers.
FYI: A few trigger warnings are mutilation and violence against children.
* This is my pick for category #9 (A book that features a strong female lead) for the ReadICT challenge.*
First line: The front door opened, and I heard the stamp of the FBI agent’s feet on the doormat.
On a snowy morning Malcolm Kershaw gets a call from an FBI agent asking
about a list of his favorite fictional murders he wrote years ago on
his bookstores blog. What does an old blog post have to do with a string
of recent murders? According to Gwen, the FBI agent, it appears that
someone is using this list to commit their own murders. Malcolm starts
doing his own search into the suspects. Who are they and how are they
connected to him? Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction.
My Thoughts: While reading this I found myself comparing it to The Woman in the Window. I don’t think it had much to do with the actual mystery but more with the books/movies recommended by the narrator. I even put holds on several of the movies and looked for copies of the mystery novels mentioned.
I love how the author calls out how so many thrillers are trying to follow the unreliable narrator like in Gone Girl. It has become a mystery trope but not one that is truly new. However, we still continue to read them because they are just so much fun. I think Malcolm though is not an unreliable narrator. He is very upfront about things but he omits some stuff as well until the end.
was a fun fast paced journey through snowy Boston. I kept trying to
figure out the twist. I can honestly say I did not consider how it would
end. But he even leaves us wondering if the conclusion is 100% true.
This is my first Peter Swanson novel and I think I will read more in the
FYI: Be prepared to add old mystery novels to your TBR list.
*This is my pick for category #1 (A book with a number in the title) for the ReadICT challenge.*
First line: They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
Alessandra is the youngest daughter of an earl. She has spent her life
sequestered from the world until her sister marries but she has a plan
to gain ultimate power for herself. First she is going to get the
attention of the Shadow King. Second she will make him fall in love with
her and marry her. And finally she is going to kill the king and take
over his kingdom.
My Thoughts: Ever since reading Tricia Levenseller’s first book, Daughter of the Pirate King, I have been hooked. It was a fast read and lots of fun! Each book since has been the same. I highly anticipate each new release. When I saw that Netgalley had an ARC of The Shadows Between Us I requested it immediately.
This is my favorite book of her so far. This is being called a Slytherin romance and that 100% describes it. I loved each of the main characters. They were both not good people but they are unashamed of it too. They know it and do not apologize for their faults. From the very first page the story takes off. Alessandra is wickedly charming and cunning. Kallias is dark, moody and brutal. But there are characters with lighter sides that add a little fluff which is refreshing too.
loved the whole premise of the Shadow King. The magic and the way it
works is brilliant. This author has a wonderful imagination and can
bring her worlds to life. I could easily picture Kallias and his
shadows. The details of the outfits were stunning. I wish I could read
this again for the first time. I am so sad I have to wait another year
for a new book by Levenseller.
FYI: This is a standalone young adult novel.
First line: The day I learned of my father’s plans for me, I was but nine years old.
In the summer of 1492 in Rome Cesare Borgia sees his father rise to the
become the newest pope. Cesare has been forced to follow his father
into the church but he knows that he is destined for something more. He
has a strong military mind and passion to rule. However, his father is
blinded by his ambitions to consider what Cesare wants.
Moretti has come from the country to work in the Vatican. As a servant
she sees into the world of powerful men who rule Europe. When she
catches the eye of the handsome cardinal, Cesare Borgia, their lives
become entwined as Rome and the rest of Italy fight the changes that are
coming for them all.
My Thoughts: I love Alyssa Palombo. She is such a talented writer. She brings her stories to life and makes the characters believable. Even though many of the characters in this story are not likeable she does a fantastic job of getting the reader to at least understand them. I have been fascinated by the Borgia’s since picking up The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis. I was very excited when I saw that Alyssa Palombo’s newest book would be centered on this notorious family.
I love the intrigue and drama of the
Borgia family. They were people who schemed for everything they got but
were at the center of religious power in Europe. I am very familiar with
their story so there was not much that surprised me in the narrative
but I loved the naughty bits which were more prominent in this novel
compared to her other ones. I liked seeing the world from the eyes of a
servant. At the end the author discussed how she wanted to look at the
events from someone of power and someone without power. I agree it makes
it much more interesting to see both sides.
FYI: Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.
First line: The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.
In 1982 Viv Delaney is hitchhiking through New York when she is dropped
off at the Sun Down Motel. That night she is offered the job of the
night clerk for the motel. On her first nights she learns that not
everything is as it seems at the Sun Down. The strong smell of
cigarettes, doors opening and closing on their own and ghostly voices
around every corner. Then one night in November Viv disappears without a
Flash forward to 2017, Carly Kirk travels to the town of
Fell, New York to find out what really happened to her aunt who
disappeared from the Sun Down Motel in 1982.
This was so much fun!! I read it in just 2 days. I loved the old motel,
the people and the mystery. I always drive by old motels and wonder who
actually stops there. This answered it for me. St. James’ descriptions
of the place are just eerie. It is a place stuck in a time bubble. I can
easily imagine the smell of the old smoke, the dirty carpets and the
old bedspreads. Add to the creepy hotel a few ghosts and you have the
recipe for a perfect story. The first time that Viv sees the woman it
gave me chills.
FYI: If you love a good ghost story than this is for you!
First line: By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.
Galaxy “Alex” stern is a freshman at Yale. She grew up in California
but got in with a rough crowd as a teenager. She dropped out of school,
took drugs and lived with her drug dealing boyfriend. Until one night
everyone in her apartment is found dead except for her. She is
approached during her hospital stay with the offer of a lifetime, a full
ride scholarship to Yale.
However, when she arrives at the
prestigious college she learns that her role here is not just academic.
Alex is now a part of a society that is tasked with monitoring the
activities of the universities secret societies. With her ability to see
ghosts she is charged with helping keep the spirits and the rituals in
When a local girl is found murdered around the campus
Alex believes that the societies may have something to do with it. As
she continues to search for more clues to the mysterious death her she
finds herself being attacked by the ghosts the walk the town of New
My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading
this book ever since I heard about it. I really enjoyed her young adult
series. Bardugo is a master at world building and wit. But as the
release day got closer I saw several reviewers I follow giving it low
ratings or not finishing the book at all. This started to scare me. Even
though there were these negative reviews with lots of trigger warnings I
decided to ignore them and judge it for myself. And I am so glad I did!
started the book as an audio. I liked it and continued listening to it
but alternating between it and the physical book. However, I wish that I
had read the first few chapters where much of the world building
information was. There are eight secret societies with different
rituals. There are lots of characters and also time jumps between
characters. This got a little confusing. Once I started to read more it
smoothed out and got to be quite enjoyable. I found it hard to put down.
Alex gives us a glimpse back into her life before Yale and what led her
to this point. Darlington shows us what the first few months are like
with Alex as the new Virgil.
I believe that my favorite part was
when Alex interacted with the ghosts. Some are very listless but others
can be very malevolent. I hope that Bardugo gives us more of this in the
upcoming books. Even though the main mystery was who killed Tara there
is an underlying and more interesting mystery. What happened to
Darlington?! Is he alive? Where did he go? Is he coming back? We get
left with quite a cliffhanger so I really hope that the next book is not
several years in the future!
FYI: This is Bardugo’s adult debut. Her young adult series are The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, The Dregs Duology, and the Nikolai Duology.
Mudlark by Lara Maiklem
First line: It is hot and airless on the 7.42 from Greenwich to Cannon Street.
Mudlarker Lara Maiklem spends hours walking miles along the riverbank
of the Thames in London. In her wanderings she finds little trinkets
that give us a look into the English past. She has found items ranging
from the Romans to modern day trash.
My Thoughts: I absolutely devoured this book. I first heard about it on a podcast, Talking Tudors, hosted by Natalie Grueninger. In one of her recent releases she talked with Lara about her upcoming book and the Tudor related finds she has discovered in the mud of the river. Immediately after listening to it I had to find a copy to read. Thank goodness Netgalley had it available.
I really enjoyed how the author laid
out the book. She started at one end of the Thames and worked her way
to the sea. As she described her finds she also delved into her past,
experiences on the foreshore and other mudlarks and their finds. I loved
learning about the items she found. I was constantly on the internet
looking for pictures of these items and reading more history behind
them. I am really jealous of the items she has in her curio cabinet. I
am seriously thinking about getting a day pass to mudlark the next time I
am in London. Or can I mudlark in Kansas?
FYI: Lara Maiklem is on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to see her finds and hear more about mudlarking then check them out.
First line: It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.
When Libby Jones turned twenty-five she receives and envelope telling
her that she has inherited a house from the estate of her dead parents.
She never knew who she was or where she came from but the answers are
finally being revealed.
Twenty-four years before the police were
summoned to a mansion along the Thames. Inside were the three dead
bodies and a baby girl in a crib. It appears to be a suicide pact as
part of a cult ritual. But neighbors reported seeing older children in
the house but none are found on the night in question. What happened at
16 Cheyne Walk that fateful night?
My Thoughts: I love
Lisa Jewell! Every book I have read by her has been a lot of fun. This
one is no exception. I really considered giving it a 5 star rating. It
flipped between three characters. Libby, the baby, who recently
inherited the house. Henry, who is telling the story of what happened in
the house. And Lucy, who is struggling to keep her family afloat while
living abroad in France.
Henry was by far my favorite chapters
because we got to see how life at 16 Cheyne Walk changed over time. His
story is told chronologically from the beginning to the end. It fills in
the gaps that Libby is trying to uncover. But his narrative is much
darker and more sinister than the others.
I struggled to
understand that point behind Lucy’s chapters. It seemed like they were
filler or a separate story. She lives in France with her children and is
trying to find a way to get back to England. It just did not seem to
fit with everything else.
But the ending. It literally gave me
goosebumps and sent a chill down my spine. What a way to close a book.
Great job again Ms. Jewell!
FYI: Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Gillian Flynn.