Book Review│A Death in Paris Mystery: The Books of the Dead by Emilia Bernhard

cover163108-mediumThe Books of the Dead by Emilia Bernhard had it all for me: Paris, death and of course, librarians. My inner nerd girl was squealing when I received the galley for this novel. I think I was so drawn to it because it had an air of Jonny Depp’s The Ninth Gate which I have watched probably too many times to count.

 A Double Murder

American sleuth Rachel Levis stumbles upon the body of an employee of the French national library strangled in the bathroom of a cafe. Having solved a murder, with her best friend Magda, only 18 months before, Rachel reaches out to Capitaine Boussicault for help.

She immediately goes undercover as a librarian to try to figure out which one of the man’s colleagues could have offed him. Almost just as quickly as she is undercover, the drama really begins to come into play: first, a priceless antique book is found mutilated and then, her favorite suspect for the first murder is found dead in the stacks. Boussicault pulls Rachel from the investigation. However, she and Magda are dedicated to solving this mystery and take the investigation into their own hands.

A Cozy Mystery

This is definitely a cozy mystery where the amateur sleuths win over the professionals and become part of an unbelievable investigation. You will have to suspend your sense of realistic cream investigations to thoroughly enjoy the novel, it has all the pieces to it: the international setting, the pair of best friends solving crimes and a slightly absurd reason to murder someone. I am excited to see where this series goes and what other kinds of trouble our two girls will get into next!

Book Information

The Books of the Dead: A Death in Paris Mystery by Emilia Bernhard is scheduled to be released on October 8, 2019, from Crooked Lane Books with ISBN 9781643851570. This review corresponds to an electronic galley supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link at the top of this section.

Book Review│The Mausoleum by David Mark

david markI was immediately drawn to this book and was really excited when the advanced galley was delivered to my kindle. The novel starts out with an elderly man on his death bed wracked with pain with two women standing over him in 2010. The women, Cordelia Hemlock and Felicity Goose have known each other for many years and have been investigating this unfolding historical mystery since the 1960’s when they first met.

A Chance Meeting in a Graveyard

In 1967, Cordelia is a disgraced academic who has recently arrived in a small town in Scotland called Gisland. She is deep in her grief over the loss of her 2-year-old son. She finds solace in the neighboring graveyard and spends her time among the tombstones, perhaps longing to some connection to her deceased son or to death itself. Felicity comes upon her one day, laying among the graves. The two women strike up a conversation just as a storm blows in bringing heavy rain and severe lightning with it. Felicity offers to let Cordelia come back to her cottage with her since it is closer than where Cordelia is staying. Just as the two are leaving, lightning strikes a nearby mausoleum causing it to break open and reveals a body that is only days old. The two women rush to Felicity’s home where they tell her neighbor Fairfax about it. He then rushes out to see the body and get the constable. Only, he is killed and it is found that the body is gone from the mausoleum. Thus begins a long friendship between Cordelia and Felicity that spans decades as they try to uncover the mystery of the body that they found all those years ago.

A Nazi Gestapo & the French Milice

The Mausoleum became an engrossing historical investigation that plunges the two women into the world of Nazi’s and their supporters. This story takes us back to the horrors of World War II and the pervading evilness that the Gestapo enacted on countless victims that for some, continued on even after the war was over. The French Milice are also part of the torture of this novel. While the Nazis dominated Germany, the Milice were a political group in France during the same time that aided in rounding up and deporting French Jews and their families to the concentration and death camps. Also similar to the Nazis who had Hitler Youths, the French Milice also encouraged youth to participate in their youth program known as the Avant-Garde.

The Mysterious Abel

Fairfax, prior to his untimely death, is a writer who records everything that he can get his hands on. One of the things he has recorded is the testimony of a man who describes his life and the torture he endured under the hands of the Nazi Gestapo and the French Milice. The account is horrendous and the abuse and torture seemed to be neverending. The testimony records the Gestapo’s name as being Abel. Could this Abel be the man that the two women found in the grave? The mystery only expands from here, sending the women deep into history to uncover the truth in the present. If you’re looking for a novel that unravels slowly and plunges you deep into a historical investigation then this is a mystery that you will have to pick up.

Book Information

The Mausoleum by David Mark will be released on June 1, 2019, from Severn House Publishers with ISBN 9780727888723. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above!

Book Review │Charleston Fancy by Witold Rybczynski

When I was an undergraduate at Rutgers University studying art history, one of my all time favorite books that I continually went back to and even now, will pick up from time to time were any of Peter Mayle’s Provence series. What I loved so much about them was that I was learning about life in Provence as an ex-pat through the life of someone who clearly loved Provence. I was learning through someone else’s passion and in so many ways that is the best way to learn because they will never cease to be an endless treasure trove of information about their subject.

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Charleston, South Carolina

I felt the same concept of learning through someone else’s passion with Witold Rybczynski’s Charleston Fancy. Instead of Provence, we are emersed in the world of Charleston, South Carolina, and its beautiful architecture. Charleston is a town with roots that go back to a time before the 1700’s when it was first occupied by British colonists who had landed on the Carolina coast. The city grew and has attracted varieties of people to its warm climate and abundance of different architecture that is notable throughout the town.

Rybczynski opens the world of Charleston, South Carolina up to his readers as we are informed about the various types of architecture that are present and the different types of people and characters we meet along the way. The novel brings Charleston to life through small vignettes and glimpses of Rybczynski’s cast of characters and homeowners as we are further exposed to the varied world of Charleston and its architecture.

Southern Architecture

When I think of Charleston, my mind immediately wonders off to verandas, wicker chairs and huge porches that are all sprinkled along tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and beautiful masonry. While some parts of the south are like this, Rybczynski focuses his book on the surprises that Charleston has to bring us. From the small houses that hide beautiful courtyard verandas to Byzantine and Moorish beauties that are tucked away– he takes us on a ride through the surprises and beauty that is the prevailing sense of creativity that abounds throughout Charleston’s homes and architecture. It is detailed and colorful in his approach to bringing the world of Charleston, South Carolina for those of us who aren’t familiar.

Book Information

Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City by Witold Rybczynski will be released on May 28, 2019, from Yale University Press with ISBN 9780300229073. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │ Unleashed by Diana Palmer

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I was probably a little too young when I first read a Diana Plamer book. I had to have been about 13 or 14 when I fished Magnolia out of a bag of books my grandmother had given to my mom. At that point, I had just started to write and I loved romances. I would just get lost in them and Palmer’s Magnolia did not disappoint. I fell in love with her writing and the steamy romances she whipped up with brooding, handsome men and the strong women they all always seemed to fall in love with. I went on to read all of her mercenary books and dove right into her Long, Tall Texan series of which, Unleashed is number 47 in the series.

Palmer does not disappoint us with her reserved, brooding and strong characters that she is known for. We meet Colter, a man that has been spending his time with women that he knows will never be much of anything. No woman really encapsulates him until he notices his assistant, Clancy who is battling a dark past of her own. Her brother is in jail for having hurt her in his attack on their younger brother. She is terrified that he will be released. She is also pretty smitten with Colter even though he’s not completely into her yet, as he has lingering feelings for his best friend’s former fiancee.

However, the chemistry and drama begin to burn between Colter and Clancy in a way that only Diana Palmer can deliver. The loves scenes are steamy and built with a sensuality that is exclusive to Diana Palmer novels wherein Colter is the older, experienced man while Clancy is blossoming into her own. Paralleled with the few violent scenes that are also present in the novel, Unleashed delivers to its readers a sultry read filled with drama and violence that leave you rooting for Colter and Clancy as the novel works towards its fitting end.

Unleashed (Long, Tall Texans Book 47) by Diana Palmer will be available for purchase on June 25, 2019, with ISBN 9781335659989 from Harlequin. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │ Cherry Scones and Broken Bones by Darci Hannah

This is the second book of the Very Cherry Mystery Series. If you are looking for a cozy sort of mystery mixed up with a love triangle then this is one you have to pick up. We meet our main character Whitney, who has returned to her small Wisconsin town to take over control of her family’s bed and breakfast, The Cherry Orchard Inn.

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Whitney is an experienced manager and baker with her signature dish being cherry scones. Everything seems to be going well for Whitney, until, Silvia Lumiere a renowned portrait painter decides to book a two-month stay at the Inn. At first, everyone is extremely excited to have such a celebrity staying there, however, the tides quickly turn when Silvia’s true character comes out. She is the most unhappy of people and will find anything to complain about which gets on everyone’s last nerve.

It’s almost not shocking when she is found dead at the bottom of the stairs of the Inn with a cherry scone jammed in her mouth. Someone has shut her up permanently and everything seems to be pointing to Whitney as her murderer.

Despite being at the center of a murder mystery, Whitney does find time to find herself in the middle of a love triangle between herself, Jake and Jack’s friend Tate. This is where a lot of the drama happens as even though Whitney is a 30-something-year-old woman, she is incredibly immature when it comes to her romantic life. She’s too afraid to turn down Tate, but also too afraid to be rejected by Jack and it lends itself to much of the drama between all of them.

However, the twist at the end really brought this book together for me. While this is not a murder mystery that is littered with clues and it is more of a cozy, quick read than something more substantial, Darci Hannah does deliver a good, shocking end with a murderer that is not our romantically entwined heroin.

Cherry Scones & Broken Bones (A Very Cherry Mystery Book 2) by Darci Hannah will be released on June 8, 2019 from Midnight Ink with ISBN 9780738758381. This review refers to an advanced electronic galley that was shared in exchange for a review.

Book Review │ Tell No One by Barbara Taylor Sissel

With school winding down for the year and having finally finished writing my doctoral dissertation, I am all about looking for books that offer me an escape from my own reality. I am very much into books that are full of great plot and drama as well as those that take you to places that are far away from your everyday life. I am thoroughly enjoying escapism through reading.

tell no one

Tell No One by Barbara Taylor Sissel gave me all of what I have been seeking in a book lately. At the heart of a novel is an old truth: lies within families will fester and boil over in unexpected and shocking ways. They will trickle down among generations and touch lives that weren’t even yet considered when the lies began.

Beginning with a deathbed wish, family secrets spill over through the voices of two siblings as scandals emerge in the family. Several plots lines run throughout the book involving financial crimes, PTSD, addiction and secrets so scandalous they cannot be spoken about. Sometimes other people’s choices and actions will shape us even though we think we are consciously avoiding being taken in by them. Also, sometimes good and bad go together and are not often so clearcut, but rather survive in our world as a gray area where distance sometimes means the difference between the two.

Overall, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers with Tell No One. She creates an immersive world where you remain the entire time that you are reading her book. As you read, you feel as though you are part of her story, watching as a family comes to terms with things long buried and ultimately meets a dramatic, action-fueled end at the conclusion of her narrative which in turn, will hopefully lead to what everyone is searching for: forgiveness both of other people and of themselves.

Tell No One by Barbara Taylor Sissel shows the complexities of families and of the demons we both acquire from our families as well as though that we create for ourselves and in turn, unleash onto our families both consciously and unintentionally.

Tell No One by Barbara Taylor Sissel will be available for purchase on May 14, 2019. It will be published through Lake Union Publishing with ISBN 9781542040457. This review was written after receiving an advanced electronic galley from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Book Review: A Woman in Berlin

This past week, I read A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in a Conquered City. It was hard to get through, not because of the writing which I loved considering the material, but just with how emotional the book was. The novel is the diary of a woman who recorded daily life during the Russian occupation of Berlin during the second World War.

For years, the book was published without credit, since its author feared what could become of her if it was known that she had in fact written it. It is presumed that the diary actually was of German journalist, Marta Hillers.

The diary largely chronicles the brutality and atrocities that can and do occur during wartime. The author descriptively records the multiple rapes she suffered at the hands of the Red Army, the murders, the suicides and the bombings that prevailed in Berlin following Hitler’s fall from power. She raises the question, is it really the more humane thing to do to leave women and children behind while men fight in wars? Without protection, women do become the booty of war (pun intended) and they die, along with the children.

The author is admirable because instead of making herself the victim, which she no doubt is, she rises above that. She uses her mind and her body to keep herself safe and to ensure that she can get food to feed herself and in turn the people that she lives with. Her bravery and courageousness that echoes in her writing is just unbelievable as when she was writing this, there was no end in sight for her. This was her life.

The book moves pretty quickly and what I enjoyed most about it was the author’s writing style. Though written in the 1940’s, the book had a more modern feel to the way it was written, completely pulling me into her story and the story of those she lived with.

Score: 4 out of 5

Book Information: A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in a Conquered City is available for purchase with ISBN 0312426119 via Picador. This version was originally published in July 2006.

If you’re interested, there was even a movie made of this book not too long ago: