A Christmas Railway Mystery

A Christmas Railway Mystery (The Railway Detective #15)A Christmas Railway Mystery by Edward Marston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by the book.

A horrific murder has occurred in a miniature town of Swindon. Inspector Colbeck of Scotland Yard with his sidekick, Victor Leeming have 10 days to investigate the murder and be back home to their families by Christmas. Shortly after their arrival, Colbeck and Leeming narrow their list to five suspects. Every person on their list has a motive to murder Frank Rodman. Detectives use their little grey cells and catch the sneaky cold-hearted murderer, but not before a little twist in the story.

Do you think this is the end of the book? Hold your teacups! Colbeck and Leeming are not done yet. While our courageous detectives are running around Swindon trying to catch Rodman’s murder, their beloved Superintendent Tallis is being abducted. Acting Superintendent Martin (Mouldy) Grosvenor takes all the wrong steps to recover Tallis whereabouts, and time is running out. Tallis’ days (hours) are numbered… Will Colbeck make it in time to rescue his mentor?

Sassy characters, fantastic plot with new discoveries coming to lite with every new page. Bravo Mr. Marston!

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Her Best Friend

Her Best FriendHer Best Friend by Sarah Wray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful and thrilling page-turner with an unexpected ending.

A terrible murder of a fifteen-year-old took place in a quiet English town. Two decades later the murder remains unsolved. The journalist, Sam, arrives into the town to shoot a documentary for Victoria’s 20th murder anniversary. Sam is not the only visitor in Conley. Victoria’s best friend Sylvie is back in town to sort some things out with her estranged mother’s will. Since her return, Sylvia is being drowned in the memories of the last summer herself and Victoria spent together. Both girls were inseparable, as their parents have been friends since before the girls were born. However something more then just a friendship is connecting both girls’ parents (bam bam bam)… and Victoria accidentally finds out!

Sylvia is the only person left who know’s what really have happened that dreadful night 20 years ago. She can no longer stay in town as Victoria’s parents, her old school friend Michelle and Sam are overwhelming her. However, right before her departure, Sylvia is being lured into unveiling her secret and… she learns one very significant detail about Victoria’s death.

Exhilarating and engaging plot. I could not put the book down. Dear Sarah Wray – you just got yourself a new fan!Screenshot_20171223-005623_1514008607399

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Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop

Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop (Rabbit's Leap, Book 3)Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop by Kellie Hailes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A perfect book to cuddle up with during the chilly winter months.

What do you do when your marriage is over and you need to start a new life? Serena has a life any girl whats to live. She is married to a famous, talented and handsome rock star – Richie. She has a glamorous house, perfect vacations, jewelry… in the other words – her life is a golden cage.

After a decade of marriage, Serena leaves her husband and the sunny US and moves back to England into her parents’ house. However, she is not interested in running the family business and decides to open her own chocolate shop. This causes a quarrel between Serena and her mom. But time goes by, and everything seems to come together. It’s a day before the grand opening of her shop, the last thing Serena expects its Richie to show up at her doorstep. Is he too late? Is there a chance to save their marriage?

With a little bit of hope, love and a chocolate, everything is possible during this wonderful time of the year.Screenshot_20171223-005550_1514008609060

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Awakened by Love

Awakened by LoveAwakened by Love by Azin Sametipour

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An engaging and entertaining page-turner. I was pleasantly surprised by the story. I love books that capture my attention from the first page.

Zoha Farzam is a nineteen-year-old, muslin, American born into a traditional Iranian family. As a first born Zoha is a role model for her younger sisters and cousins. She is following her family footsteps and is pursuing her pre-med degree at UC Davis. Zoha is modeled student, dedicated to her family and religion. From the outside, she is a perfect Muslim, but on the inside, Zoha is fighting a great war between the Muslim girl her parents raised and a “normal” American girl Zoha wants to be. Is she brave enough to pursue her dream and go against her family and religion?

It starts with a scarf. Without her parent’s permission Zoha removes it during her first year in college. But when she meets Ethan Renard 3 years later – Zoha can’t resist the interest and her feeling towards him. From the start, Zoha knows that Ethan will never be approved by her family. Romance with someone outside of her faith is something Zoha has never expected to experience in her life, will she cross the line and taste the forbidden fruit?

Unpredictable ending of the book. I am hooked on the story and can not wait for the next two books of this trilogy. Wonderful writing, amusing and strong characters, and fascinating storyline.

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Secrets of Cavendon

Secrets of Cavendon (Cavendon Hall, #4)Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard of Cavendon Hall series from a fellow reader friend and was looking forward to reading this book. This is the fourth book of Cavendon Hall series, I have not read the previous 3 books. However, this did not prevent me from enjoying the story. Cavendon Hall’s history was explained extremely well in the book. And there are so many characters, (oh boy!!), however, the author has given a full description of each person so thoroughly that there is no chance for anyone to confuse them.

Cavendon Hall’s history has begun with a great friendship between Inghams and Swanns. Thru the history – Inghams have carried the title and Swanns have been by their side as their true servants. But this was not the only thing that tied Inghams and Swanns together. This book is revealing fascinating secrets of both families. So keep reading!!

Both families are portraited so well, their relationship with each other is easy, they cherish their history and family values. And how exceptionally well they have handled the changes after the WWII! Everyone in their way contributed something to keep Cavendon Hall “running”. As I mentioned earlier, there are many characters, nevertheless, it is very easy to keep track of them. Each character is extraordinary, and their stories lines are unique.

Well written book. Delightful evening read. Each chapter lures the reader in. I am looking forward to reading the first 3 books from Cavendon Hall series.Screenshot_20171223-005608_1514008608634

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Murder in the Manuscript Room

Murder in the Manuscript Room (A 42nd Street Library Mystery #2)Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to reading this book, the main reason is the place where the murder took place – New York Public Library! This is a second book of the “A 42nd Street Library Mystery”. I haven’t read the first part.

The beginning of the story takes place in the 80s, with the murder of Richard Wright, a union representative who uncovered a contract between NY gangs and NYPD officials. An innocent man, Devon, is sent to jail. Years later he contacts his childhood friend, Raymond Ambler, and asks him to look into the case.

Ray Ambler, a librarian, is in charge of a new exhibit at takes place at New York Public Library – A Century-and-a-Half of Murder and Mystery in New York City. He is being introduced to Paul Higgins, retired detective and a murder mystery book writer. Paul “donates” to the exhibion his notes and some police files that he has been collecting and used as a material for his books. Ray questions Paul regarding the documents and Devon’s case, however, Higgins denies having any knowledge or info on Devon/Wright case. Days later Paul’s ex-wife Laila, a librarian and undercover cop, is found dead in Raymond’s office. Godi, an Islamic scholar whom Laila was investigating is a suspect in the murder.

Mike Cosgrove, an NYPD retired cop and a friend of both Ambler and Higgins, is looking into the case. It seems that all the roads lead him to Richard Wright’s murder back in the 80s. Coincidence? Mike doesn’t think so. He is sure that Godi is framed for Laila’s murder and Paul has to reasons to go after his ex-wife. Days later and both murders of Devon and Paul are confirming Mike’s suspicions. He takes the investigation into his own hands and takes down NYPD Intelligence Department and the man behind it all – Bradley Cooper.

The idea of the book is very catching. In my opinion, there are too many characters involved, way too much inside drama that didn’t have much to do with the actual case. Bradley Cooper was portraited as a dirty cop since the first pages, so I expected him to be behind the murders by the end of the book. I still do not understand what exactly Godi was researching in the library, why it was important, and why Laila was investigating him. And who exactly shot Richard Wright?! I wish the story included Cooper’s trial and how it actually ended.

As I said, I like the idea of the book, I just don’t feel it was completed, it has a few loose ends, and I wish it had more reasons to be tied to the Library.Screenshot_20171222-183427_1514007747063

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Searching for Irene

Searching for IreneSearching for Irene by Marlene Bateman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thrilling and wonderful mystery novel. The story takes place in 1920s in a charming Virginia mansion that is full of intrigues, secrets, and brother rivalry.

Anna, a modern secretary, lands a job as a live-in secretary/bookkeeper working for Lawrence Richardson. Lawrence’s older son Tyler is against the idea and is not afraid to show it, meanwhile, his younger brother, Kent, seems to be very happy to have a young and pretty face around the house. Anna is hired to finish the job that was started by a previous secretary, Irene, who suspiciously disappeared. And surprisingly enough – no one seems to care what really happened to Irene. Anna settles in the house, makes herself familiar with the bookkeeping work, gets to know the staff that works at the mansion, and creates a close friendship with Evan and Grace. But one thing doesn’t leave Anna’s mind – what happened to Irene?

During one of Anna’s afternoon rides, the young secretary comes upon a body that is identified as Richardson’s previous secretary – Irene. Coroner’s exam confirms that Irene’s death was not caused by a fall from the horse – she was strangled. Heartbroken Anna makes a promise to her mom – to find who killed Irene, her younger sister. (What!?)

And what a wonderful list of characters we have here:

Lawrence – a patriarch of Richardson family.

Tyler – single father and a widower, whose passion is breading horses. Tyler is in line to inherit Ashton Hall.

Evan – Tyler’s son.

Kent – ladies man, trapped in a marriage that he is trying to escape. Kent is known for his love of farming that causes many of the arguments between him and his brother.

Grace – Kent’s sweet and caring wife, who has not been the same after losing her daughter Rose.

Helen – Tyler’s wannabe wife, who comes from an aristocratic family.

Charles – Richardson family carpenter.

Verla – housekeeper/maid.

Pearl – cook.

Mrs.Calder – Evan’s governess.

Billy – stable worker.

Anna is not the only one in Ashton Hall who has a secret. The young girl has a strange feeling of being watched, she is being pushed down the starts and a note with a black wreath is left on her pillow. Will this be enough to scare Anna away? Anna is convinced that her sister’s murderer is closer, the murdered is an occupant of Ashton Hall.

Meanwhile, Anna manages to still do the job she was hired to complete. In a process, Anna persuades Lawrence to divide the management of the Ashton Hall: horse breeding to Tyler and farming side to Kent, that finally brings a peace between two brothers.

The last few chapters were so thrilling, I was accidentally skipping the lines while reading, that’s how excited I was to get to the end of the book. This is romantic mystery thriller with a fantastic plot. Perfect vacation or evening read.Screenshot_20171223-004417_1514007882374

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The Lost Girl of Astor Street

The Lost Girl of Astor StreetThe Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to be like Piper Sail when I grow up! It’s been a few weeks since I read such a great mystery book. It’s fast, engaging, with captivating characters, and new details come to lite with every page. I could not get enough of this book.

A storyline takes place in Chicago, 1924 (I love this time!). Piper’s best friend vanishes from the safest street in town, and police seem to be looking in all wrong places. Impatient Piper takes the investigation into her own hands. Sadly, Lydia’s body is recovered from a river. Family chauffeur, who suddenly disappears, is being blamed for young girl’s death. Police seem to close the case. But Piper can’t give up on her best friend so easily. Detective Sail has made a list of suspects and has made a priority to find the right person responsible for Lydia’s death.

Is it Lydia’s father, Doctor DeVine, who has hidden his daughter’s illness for months and was ready to send Lydia away to the clinic to get well?

Or is it Matthew, family chauffeur, who was sweet on Lydia, and Lydia was over heels in love with a young man?

Or is it next door neighbor, who cheats on his wife with a nanny and has a history of hitting his son?

Or is it one of Chicago’s gangs, the Finnegans, who have some connection to both Piper and Lydia’s fathers… and Matthew?

During her investigation, Piper befriends a young and handsome detective Cassano, who is related to another of Chicago gangs, but claims that he is an honest cop. The two catch feelings for each other and become an adorable sweet couple.

But let’s not forget all other amazing characters: Walter, Piper’s first love and “big brother”, a son of Sail residence cook/housekeeper. Emma and Jeremiah Crane, a brother/sister duo that also came to Detective Sail’s help during her investigation. Nick, Piper’s big brother. And Alana, Nick’s new lady love and an annoying reporter who keeps sniffing around for more scoops about Lydia and Matthew’s story.

With a surprising discovery (and some scratches and broken bones), our little detective concludes her investigation and brings Lydia’s killer to justice.

“I don’t think Chicago’s underbelly has seen the last of Piper Sail.” – I hope this is true. I would love to read more about this fascinating character.Screenshot_20171222-183451

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Queen of the Flowers

Queen of the Flowers (Phryne Fisher, #14)Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of all detective series, however, I never got a chance to read any of Ms. Fisher’s books. Therefore this is my very first novel from Ms. Fisher’s Murder Series. Even though this is a #14 book from a series, it gave me a very thorough introduction to the main heroine, Phryne Fisher, her background, and family/friends. And oh boy, there is a lot to keep up with: circus, tea dances, tango competitions, etiquette lessons, flower festival, young love, kidnapping, a missing daughter, family reunion, attempted murder of a young girl… That is one big and entertaining rollercoaster.

Let’s start with a missing Rose Weston. Weston’s family friend requests Ms. Fisher’s services to find the young girl. During the investigation, Phryne realizes that something shady is going on behind the doors of Weston’s residence. After Phryne locates a half-alive body of Rose, she looks more thoroughly into the missing case, that later on discovers quiet unpleasant old and new secrets about Weston family.

The second story of the book involves Phryne’s adoptive daughter, Ruth. It’s a very heartbreaking story of young love, shattered by parent’s disapproval and unfortunate terminal illness. Nevertheless, in books, every tragic story has a happy ending that brings us to a surprising but very sweet family reunion.

As mentioned above, the book was very entertaining, however, there were too many backstories. Although I was very happy to learn about our sassy detective, I felt a bit disappointed that the main story only took place in a second half of the book. However, I was charmed by Ms. Fisher and will definitely read more of her books.Screenshot_20171223-005516_1514008608156

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A Christmas Return

A Christmas ReturnA Christmas Return by Anne Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anne Perry’s books are always a delightful read with a very sweet happy ending.

This time I was introduced to a very sassy Mariah Ellison. The story takes place during the Christmas time. 20 year prior, a tragic accident ended a life of Mariah’s very good and dear friend, Cullen Wesley. The accident also caused a fall out between Mariah and Rowena, Cullen’s wife. And nothing would ever change if Mariah didn’t receive a cannonball in a Christmas pudding that followed by a letter from Rowena’s grandson. Peter invited Mariah to come back to Surrey and help him “complete” his grandfather’s last case that has been hovering over Rowena for the past 20 years.

Our short tempered Mariah is on her way to Surrey, where she reunites with Rowena and her grandson, Peter. Upon her arrival, our sassy grandmother learns the news – Dr. Owen Durward is back in Surrey, to clear his name and… to marry into a very wealthy family. Since Dr. Durward’s arrival a very unpleasant rumor being spread around little village. The rumor states that Cullen’s death was not an accident, but a horrific murder and the murderer is Cullen’s own wife – Rowena. Peter is determined to clear his grandmother’s name.

Now, let’s talk about a tragedy that took place 20 years prior in a quiet village of Surrey. A 14 year old girl went missing during the Christmas time and was found dead in the woods. A young girl was awfully violated. Owen Durward, a village doctor, was arrested and charged with her murder. Cullen Wesley, village attorney took Dr. Durward’s case. During the trial, Cullen came upon a similar tragedy that took place 5 years earlier only a few villages away. And guess who was a village doctor at that time? Coincidence? I think not. Owen Cullen was not arrested at that time, his married lover friend confirmed his whereabouts during the time of abduction/murder of a 12-year-old girl. Right after this dreadful discovery, Cullen has dropped Dr. Durward’s case, and hours later was found in his study, dead. The death was considerate an accident. However, Owen has spread the rumor that Rowena has killed her husband, as he refused to defend Owen because Dr. Durward and Rowena were engaged in a love affair. Phew, talk about drama!

England has a very interesting law, a person can’t be arrested and tried for the same murder twice. Dr. Durward has underestimated our little sassy and stubborn Meriah. Peter and Meriah followed Cullen’s steps 20 years later and discovered an unsolved murder in a neighbor village. Queer Dr. Durward was finally brought to justice. This time Owen was arrested, tried and hanged for the first murder he has committed 25 years ago.

This book receives 3 stars because of two questions that were not answered in the story. Who did send Mariah a cannonball in a Christmas pudding? And did Dr. Durward killed Cullen or was his death really an accident?

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My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's ChoiceMy Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice by Angie Dicken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful book, delightful Christmas read.

The story takes place in the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah in 1910. Leanna McKee, born in Boston to wealthy parents, marries for love and follows her gambling husband to Castle Gate. While Jack works at the mine, Leanna finds a job as a school teacher. After an accidental death of her husband, young widow plans on leaving the city and move to San Francisco. Leanna is too proud to return to her family in Boston and to ask for their financial help. And finally the light at the end of the tunnel – Greek family offers Leanna a temporary job, to look after their 2 young kids. The pay is very generous and it’s enough money to buy a ticket to San Francisco. Leanna happily accepts the job.

Weeks go by and the young widow gets attached to the kids and to Pappa’s family, especially to children’s uncle – Alex. Greek family is happy to see young American in their circle, but Alex’s parents want to see their son with a Greek woman and they arrange his marriage. Although, it’s too late. The young couple is in love and plans to tie the knot and move to San Francisco where they can start their new life together. However not only Pappa’s family can’t accept Alex and Leanna’s union, Americans dislike Leanna’s attachment to the Greek family as well. During the Christmas Eve, they make an attempt on setting Pappa’s restaurant on fire. Will this be an end to Alex and Leanna’s love affair?

An amazing set of characters. I was very happy to learn a little about Greek and their holiday traditions. The book is about hope, friendship, love, and forgiveness.

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