The Abandoned

The Abandoned: a gripping crime thrillerThe Abandoned: a gripping crime thriller by Sharon Thompson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From page one I was lured into the dark world of Peggy Bowden. The book is not even close to what I have expected it to be.

The year is 1950 and we are in Dublin at the doorstep of a house number thirty-four. We are being greeted by Peggy Bowden. Peggy is not your ordinary girl next door, she is more of the opposite. Peggy’s life was never easy. Becoming a mistress of a whorehouse and an abortionist was not her first choice. When she was a teenager, her world came crashing when her father didnt return home from the war. Her mother went mad shortly after and was taken to a mental asylum. She was married off to an abusive farmer, until an unfortunate accident when he broke his neck. After that accident, Peggy moved to Dublin, became a midwife and started to run an illegal baby-selling business. After a while, she was turned into to law enforcement hands and ended up in the prison for five years. Life after prison was even worse, and running a whorehouse and illegal abortion business on the side was all she could do at the time.

A letter in the mailbox informs Peggy of a living (wealthy) family member that would like to reconnect with her. Can this be Peggy’s happy ending? Can she reunite with a long lost relative, gain a family and live happily ever after? Even if a family member turns out to be an Irish mobster?

The rollercoaster of events in this book keeps the reader on their toes.


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The French Girl

The French GirlThe French Girl by Lexie Elliott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Phenomenal thriller, full of deception and a great story of loyalty and friendship.

Six Oxford university students and friends (well, some more than just friends) Kate, Seb, Lara, Tom, Caro, and Theo go on a short french vacation. During their stay at Theo’s family farm, six friends also shared their pool with a French mademoiselle next book – Severine. However the vacations don’t go as smooth and happy as planned: Kate and Seb break up, Kate has a big fight with Caro over the drugs she smuggled in, Tom and Lara hook up, and Severine goes missing. After their return to England, the group stops discussing the case and their vacation “that summer”.

Now, fast forward ten years later. The group is still relatively close, everyone tries to juggle their career and love life, some succeed and some… not so much. The news about Severine’s cold case being reopened starting to bring all unpleasant memories back from “that summer”. French detective is on his way to the UK to interview the group once again… and the atmosphere between the friends starting to tense. The friendship proves it’s strength during the bad times… and the group is about to discover something much… much worse.

An outstanding page-turner. I enjoyed the book very much and looking forward to reading more of Lexie Elliott’s books.


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Dead Man’s Chest

Dead Man's Chest (Phryne Fisher, #18)Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a pleasure to get thru another adventure with famous Miss Fisher. This is my second novel featuring this sassy character. The first book didn’t leave a good impression, but I did promise to give Miss Fisher another change – and I am glad I did.

In this novel, Miss Fisher, her two daughters and companion Dot are heading to Queenscliff for a winter vacation. But it just happens that murders follow our courageous little detective wherever she goes. And this vacation is not an exception.

First – married couple buttler and cook/maid Mr. and Mrs. Johnson that supposed to meet and prepare the house for Miss Fisher and her companions are missing. Their beloved dog is found at home by himself, filthy and hungry. Everyone has nothing but good things to tell about the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. What is a reason behind their disappearance? Why did they leave the house, hid all the valuable items but left the back door open?

Second – elderly next door neighbor who might have witnessed something about the Johnsons passes away in her sleep. Although the doctor confirms that the lady passed away from natural causes, her daughter seems to think that her mother was murdered. Well, Miss Fisher does find a pillow with teeth imprint and victims saliva on it… can this be a proof?

Third – young a beautiful maid from the next door who is also a wannabe movie start drops dead in a middle of the filming festival.

Relaxing and carefree vacation no more. Miss Fisher and Co not only bring all the lawbreakers to justice (well almost all), they also fight off dangerous local mobsters, befriend lovely and curious Tinkle, and have some fun in the sun in between.

Well, that’s one heck of a vacation, don’t you agree. After reading two books of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries I can safely admit that Phyrne Fisher is a crime magnet. And I am looking forward to reading more of her captivating stories.


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The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the PictureThe Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sensational, mysterious and outstanding novel by Kerry Barrett! I am kicking myself for not reading this book months earlier. From the moment I was introduced to our three heroines Ella, Frances and Violet – I was glued to their stories.

A horrific accident takes place on a warm evening of September 1855 in a quiet and small town of Sussex. Frances and Edwin Forrest are attacked in front of the family home, in the result – Edwin is found dead, heavily beaten Frances survives, and so is her unborn child. However, another mystery hangs over the peaceful town of Sussex – Forrest’s young next door neighbor Violet Hargreaves goes missing that very same evening.

One hundred and fifty years later, Daniels family of four moves into a charming house at the beach in a lovely little town of Sussex. During their first evening, Ella, who is also a mystery novel writer, sees a figure in an attic window. But she brushes it off. Days go by, and Ella learns about a tragic accident that happened next door many many years ago, and of a disappearance of a young girl who lived in their house. As they settle in, Ella decides to clean up an attic and built her study in there. In a process, she discovers a hidden door in the wall, and behind it, Ella finds many sketches, a dairy and a picture of a very beautiful girl, Violet Hargreaves. Was the figure in an attic window during family’s first evening in the house just Ella’s imagination? Ella Daniels is on a mission to resolve a 150-year-old case.

I will tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. A puzzling story, amazing characters, remarkable discoveries. A very easy and fast read. Perfect for any mystery lover.


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The Bookworm

The BookwormThe Bookworm by Mitch Silver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the past year I build a huge interest in WWII history, therefore when I came upon this book I was very eager to read it.

The main story in the book focuses on the big secret that England pulled during WWII. England/USA have manipulated Hitler to invade the Soviet Union instead of England. The story’s little scheme involves young JFK, Churchill, Noel Coward, and French physician Nostradamus.

In our (present) time, Russin geohistory professor Larissa Mendelova Klimt is hired to find “Hitler’s Bible”. She is provided with six cylinders of recordings that tell her a story of Hitler’s Bible, when and how it was created, and what was its purpose. Chessplayer by nature, Lara puts all her “figures” on the board and finds the missing Bible.

The book is a combination of a political thriller and historical fiction. I love the idea of Hitler’s Bible, I wish the book was more focused on that story instead of adding oil pumping US deal into the storyline.


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The Missing Child

The Missing Child (Detective Rachel Prince #1)The Missing Child by Alison James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Headstrong, sassy, and determined Rachel Prince is my new favorite detective.

A case of missing six-year-old Lola Jade Harper comes across Rachel’s desk. Upon visiting Michelle Harper, child’s mother, detective and her sidekick sense something odd about her. Michelle does not sound nor act like a greaving mother, and strangely enough, she does not seem to be eager to help detectives locate her missing child. However, Michelle does not waste any time and blames her soon to be ex-husband Gavin Harper in Lola’s abduction.

Rachel starts to work closely with local police office. Every day new details come to detective Prince’s attention. For example, Harper family had a boy before Lola’s birth. The boy lived only four months and was never mentioned, nor there were any remindings of him at the family home. Harper residence has three bedrooms and not two as was described by Michelle. And other very intriguing detail – why are there three kids at Michelle’s sister house, when Lisa has only a boy and a girl?

While Rachel is working her magic on resolving this very deceitful case, the local police department gets a brand new case. A single mother of a boy is smothered inside her home… which locates in the same neighborhood as Lisa’s house. Coincidence? Nothing can get away from detective Rachel Prince sharp eye.

A thrilling and fascinating page-turner. I am looking forward to reading more of Detective Prince books.


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The Girls in the Picture

The Girls in the PictureThe Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a big fan of old movies, and I’ve seen Mary Pickford in a few, therefore I was familiar with her prior to this book. However, I never heard of screenwriter Frances Marion. Well, not until a few days ago. And while reading the book (and doing my Wikipedia research) I learned that Frances Marian wrote many scripts to the movies I’ve seen and loved. Melanie Benjamin did an amazing job with this novel. Not only I enjoyed learning about female empowerment in early Hollywood days, but I also learned a lot about the movie industry. Well, not all from this book, but I researched every interesting detail I read in this novel. That is another reason why it took me longers than usual to read and finish this gem.

The book concentrates on a friendship of Hollywood “power couple”, and no, I do not mean the first queen and king of Hollywood Mary Pickford and her second husband Douglas Fairbanks. I am talking about Mary Pickford and Frances Marion. And you will understand the meaning of it during the last chapter. Thru the book, we learn that their friendship survived their separate successes, broken marriages, and family losses. While both girls were a complete opposite of each other, their connection was strong. Opposite attracts, doesn’t it?

The story in the book is being told by Frances and Mary in chronological order. Each character explains their view of the certain events/situations. While Frances is a strong character from the beginning, Mary is portraited as a weaker one. Even thru this book is fiction, it was good to learn what drove Mary Pickford into the state she remained during the last years of her life.

It’s a great read, wonderful story of friendship, women empowerment, and early days of cinematography.


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A Death Of No Importance

A Death of No Importance: A MysteryA Death of No Importance: A Mystery by Mariah Fredericks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, mystery, and suspense. You have no idea how happy I was to come upon this gem!

This story takes place in 1920s New York City. An elderly employee of Jane Prescott passed away and our charming lady’s maid is on a lookout for a new job. And she lands a great employment with Benchley “new money” family that recently relocated to New York City. Jane is being appointed as a lady’s maid to Benchley’s two young daughters: glamorous and spoiled Charlotte and shy and obedient Louise.

One fine fall morning, Charlotte announces her engagement to a wealthy playboy Norrie Newsome. New York’s society and Benchley family are taken aback by this shocking statement, as everyone expected for young Newsome to propose to his childhood sweetheart. The engagement is set to be officially announced at midnight on Christmas Eve… but Norrie is found dead at the family library minutes before the midnight. Newsome family shocks New York’s society once again. Will this be the last time? Hmmm…

A very handsome and determined reporter, Michael Behan, takes an interest in our charming Jane. He makes a deal, one of his “unprinted” discoveries for one of her stories about Benchley family. While everyone suspects rising anarchists in Norrie’s death, Jane and Michael team up to find the real murderer of the young Newsome. And what a discovery our adamant Ms. Prescott will make!

A sensational page-turner. I hope this is first of many books that include marvelous Jane Prescott.

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My Last Love Story

My Last Love StoryMy Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great book to start my 2018 reading year. I am not a fan of mushy love stories, and after reading this book’s description – I decided to give it a chance and I am glad I did.

This is not your typical love triangle. The connection between Simi, Nirvaan, and Zayaan has begun 15 years prior, however, Nirvaan and Zayaan have been friends since they were kids. The trio has been close since the moment they have met. And after Nirvaan has been diagnosed with cancer, he made a titanic wish list that included both of his best friends and must be completed by the time he dies. Nirvaan also wants Simi to have his baby, and for Simi and Zayaan to give a second chance to the love they have lost.

The story goes back and forth between present and past, we learn that Simi went thru a big emotional trauma. First, her parents died in a car crash, second – she’s been raped. The second horrific event causes a fall out between Simi and her first love – Zayaan. Speaking of Zayaan, big tragedy touched his family too. He became a “man of the house” at the young age, supporting his mother and sisters.

To be completely honest, I did not like Simi’s character at the beginning of the book. It took a few chapters for me to warm up to her. However, her story touched my heart. On the other hand, Nirvaan is my favorite character from the start. He is so happy, open-hearted, and carefree. He is a glue that kept the trio together for 15 years… and thanks to his determination – will hold it together forever.

As I said before, this is not your typical love triangle. The trio loves each other very much, and it shows thru the chapters of the book. They have a very unordinary connection, that people have a very hard time to understand. An exquisite novel with an intriguing ending. Thank you, Falguni Kothari, for a wonderful book. I am looking forward to reading more of her novels.IMG_20180102_234018_214

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Carnegie’s Maid

Carnegie's MaidCarnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very touching and sweet story. It was interesting to learn a bit of Carnegie’s background.

November 4, 1963, irish immigrant Clara Kelley steps on an American soil for the very first time with only one bag in her hand and no place to go. Strangely enough, she hears her name called. There is a confusion, another girl with the exact same name never got off the boat, and Clara decides to take her place. She has no idea where she is going and what is waiting for her when she will get there.

Fortunately for our young Ms. Kelley, she is being employed as a lady’s maid by a very nice and respectful family. Clara builts a great relationship with her mistress… and with her son – Andrew Carnegie. Years go by and the friendship between Andrew and Clara grows. He shares his business wisdom with her, and Clara seems to be very eager to learn. Together, with Clara’s ideas and Andrew’s money they open a new business that keeps growing. Something else is growing in Andrew and Clara’s relationship… their feelings towards each other. The young girl has been warned about servant/master relationship multiple times by her only friend in the house, a cook Mr. Ford and her cousin and his family that live in the same town. This type of “friendship” never ends well. Clara is a smart girl herself, she understands that any type of relationship with Mrs. Carnegie’s son can lead to her losing a job which is her only source of income. Andrew is very persistent. However, there is something else that stands between them… her little secret… she never told anyone that she is impersonating another girl, a girl that died on the ship and who place Clara has taken.

Mr. Ford and Clara’s cousins were right. Everything comes to an end. Mrs. Carnegie discovers both of Clara’s secrets, and the young girl is being ordered to leave the residence immediately. Clara has no other choice but to follow Mrs. Carnegie’s order. She leaves her job, love of her life and her future in Carnegie’s Pittsburgh mansion.

I wish the author would tell us more about what has happened to Clara. Where did she go? How her life turned out to be. The last chapter gives us a few tiny clues. But I wish to learn more… There should be a second part of the book when our wonderful writer answers all our unsettled questions.

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