Tag Archives: When Falcons Fall

Queries and Conundrums: BBA Update!

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I know that it is Friday and that is usually a FOUR ON FRIDAY, but it is also April 15!!.  If you remember about a month ago, I had a bit of  a crisis; my to-be-read pile was reaching critical mass and my book buying was out-stretching my reading time.  I challenged myself to read 10 books FROM MY TO-BE-READ pile and here is the update! 

I did it and I must admit that it was quite cathartic.  My shelf looks more manageable and I finally got to read some books that had been sitting there a while.  Some I liked, some I loved, and some I gave 50 pages to and said I’m done.  Here’s the list of what I read and what I thought.

Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow by Loretta Ross
Book 2 in the Auction Block series.  I liked the first book and I really enjoyed the second!  Check out my commentary here.

Black and Blue by Emma Jameson
Book four in the Lord and Lady Hetheridge series.  I enjoyed book 4 more than books 2 and 3, and I think the series is on the right track.  Indications are that there will be a book 5.

A Heart for Milton by Tracy Brasure
A “what-happens-next” after Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel North and South.  It is always a risk when author tries to write a sequel to another author’s work.  I enjoyed North and South a great deal, but this book didn’t hold my interest.  I finished it because I was curious to see this interpretation as to how the characters’ lives played out.

Two Birds with One Stone by Sigrid Vansandt
A charming cozy mystery set in the village of Marsden-Lacey, England.  A predictable “least favorite villager gets killed” plotline but some very enjoyable characters with a unique tie to the past and a famous English author.

The Quick by Lauren Owen
Not sure I can count this one; I only made it about 130 pages.  The cover author recommendation was from Deborah Harkness, who I love, so I picked it up.  The story started out really good and I was curious to see this author’s interpretation of vampires, but the story got very convoluted and the author included scraps of chapters and unclear references.  I think if I had given it another 100 or so pages, the story would have worked itself out but I wasn’t invested enough to follow through with it.

When Falcon’s Fall by C. S. Harris  (Not on my “to-be-read pile, but moved to the front of the queue when it arrived!)
Sebastian St. Cyr’s 11th story: absolutely wonderful!!  I also just saw that the author recently was contracted to write at least three more in the series.  See me doing my happy dance!!  My commentary is here.

Deadly Scandal by Kate Parker
A new series by the author of the Victorian Bookshop series, one that I really enjoy.  This one is set in 1930’s London between the time of the two great wars.  Check out my review here.

Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson
A love story with rich historical roots set in Paris.  The cover caught my eye and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  Beautiful story about a young woman who, while lying near death following a nasty engagement break-up and life-threatening case of scarlet fever, vows that if she recovers, she will not dwell on the past and instead will embrace her future.  Helena Parr travels to her aunt’s house in France and begins to study art.  There she makes friends with an eclectic group of artists and meets and falls in love with an American reporter.  This is a slightly different look for the “Lost Generation” following World War 1 but Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald all make an appearance.  I really enjoyed the beautiful story; more of a “coming of life” rather than a “coming of age” story, but included some breath-taking descriptions and a rich historical feel.

A Scone to Die for by H. Y. Hanna
A cozy mystery series set in a teashop just outside of Oxford, England.  Uh, yeah!  Fun start to a new series.  An obnoxious and loud American tourist is murdered following an altercation in Gemma Rose’s tearoom.  Gemma, her intrepid employees including a cat named Muesli, and four nosy ladies from her community worked together to try to solve the case before someone shuts down her shop for good.  Kind of predictable but very fun.

Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart
Cherry Tucker has grown up in the small town of Halo, Georgia.  As she tries to establish herself as a portrait artist after years studying at a respectable art school, the town isn’t quite ready to let go of her past.  When Dustin Branson is murdered and Cherry is asked to paint a death portrait, she discovers more about death and art than she would ever want to know.  A little predictable but some very eccentric and entertaining characters.

Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen (Not on my “to-be-read pile, but it was a library book that I had been on the wait list for)
Concerned after she caught a glimpse of her husband in a movie news reel and a cryptic letter, Molly Murphy book 16 takes Molly and young son Liam on a grand adventure to San Francisco.  Check out my review here.

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
London book editor Sam Clair is used to dealing with temperamental authors and prickly lawyers, but it is Kit Lovell’s new book that dishes on the latest fashion industry scandal that pushes Sam out of her comfort zone.  Detective Jake Field and Sam’s mother, an accomplished and fearsome attorney, join forces with Sam to uncover the mysterious disappearance of author Kit and his novel.

I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable
As she is packing for a trip to England with her mother, Annie discovers a book that her mother had hidden about real life Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough.  As her mother’s business deal takes more time than expected, Annie begins to read the book and embarks on a quest to understand the Duchess and her life and the people who cared for her.  Although I enjoyed the author’s previous book A Paris Apartment more, there was a plot twist that took me so completely by surprise that I was engrossed in the plot so much that I had to finish the story.

Who Glares Wins by Camilla Chafer
This is the second book in the Lexi Graves series.  I read the first one and I’ll be the first to admit it is kind-of fluff, guilty pleasure reading.  However, after reading the second book, I am hooked.  Lexi is a very likable character with a wry sense of humor and a knack for adventure.  Although the series isn’t written quite as tight as the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books, I find Lexi a more believable and realistic character.  Her mistakes are human and her personality has more depth and less caricature.  I found myself rooting for her success, without hoping for a disaster.  I will most likely check out the next in the series.

Poldark: Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
I love watching period dramas on BBC almost as much as I love reading them, so of course I am obsessed by the new Poldark series.  Starring Aidan Turner . . . yeah, that’s enough for me . . . Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark, who once arriving home after fighting in the Americas, discovers that his father has died, his love is engaged to his cousin, his family homestead lies in decay and disuse, and his prospects are lean.  He commits himself to starting a new life for himself in his home of Cornwall.  This book is the first in a series of twelve books about the generations of the Poldark family.  The story is a bit dry but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as a companion to the television series.  It filled in some gaps and it was fun to note differences with the production.  It reminded me a bit of North & South how it provided enough detail about the mining industry of Cornwall and its influence on the people who lived there, without bogging the reader down in the technical aspects.  I am looking forward to reading more of the series.

 

SO . . .  actually I read 15 books!  One was an additional purchase and one was a library book, but look how nice my to-be-read shelf looks!  Of course to celebrate my accomplishment, I went out and bought 4 new books!

 

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When Falcons Fall

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Title:  When Falcons Fall (Sebastian St. Cyr 11)
Author:  C. S. Harris
Publisher:  Penguin Random House
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-451-47116-1

Book Summary:
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, his wife Hope, and their infant son Simon have traveled to the peaceful Shropshire village of Ayleswick-on-Teme to pay their respects to the family of a friend.  At the same time, Sebastian hopes to gain some more insight and answers to the secrets of his own mysterious heritage.

Emma Chance is a young widow who has also traveled to Ayleswick in search of answers to her own ancestry, but when she found dead along the banks of the River Teme with an empty bottle of laudanum by her side, the Constable quickly rules it suicide.  Archibald Rawlins, the Squire of Ayleswick, has only recently risen to the title following his father’s death; he is inexperienced and young but feels that there is more to the widow’s story.  Having discovered that Sebastian worked at times with Bow Street and had some success in solving murders, Archie asks for his assistance at the disapproval of the constable.

When Sebastian views the young woman’s body, he immediately knows that it was murder.  However, the more Archie and Sebastian dig into the woman’s life, they quickly discover that she is not who she was said to be and her death could possibly have international implications.

Is her death somehow tied to Lucien Bonaparte, brother to Napoléon, who has sought asylum along with his family at the local estate of Northcott Abbey?  What about the deaths of two other young women that were ruled suicide in the past fifteen years?  Why is Hannibal Pierce in town?  Pierce was a former captain in the dragoons who now works for the king’s cousin, Charles, Lord Jarvis, who also happens to be Hero’s father.  Could the secrets of Sebastian’s own troubling ancestry be tied to the murder?  More murders occur and the truth may be the link between the past, the present, and the future.

Book Commentary:
I have been waiting for this book since March 2015 . . . when Sebastian book 10 was released!!!  I love this series! Although definitely part of the aristocracy, Sebastian’s past as a soldier defines his need for justice and restitution.  His own questions about his past and his previously-thought-dead mother drives his insatiable curiosity and quest for answers.  His intense personality is at times contradicted by his passion for his wife and son and his sense of honor.  He is truly a complex and flawed human but the reader is drawn to his compassion and loyalty and accepts his frailty more than he does.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the growth and depth of this character develop over the course of eleven books.  The author has done an amazing job at truly allowing the character to grow and done so by seamlessly allowing it to occur with the varied plotlines.

This is the first novel to not be set in London, and although I missed the presence of Paul Gibson and Hendon, this story line allowed Sebastian to serve as a mentor to young Squire Rawlins.  As the setting and all the characters are completely new, the reader feels to be making the discoveries right along with Sebastian.  Although Jarvis is not in the story, his presence is definitely made through the character of Hannibal Pierce and it becomes clear that Jarvis’ power and control is all-encompassing.

I also really enjoyed watching how Sebastian and Hero took on the roles of husband and wife and mother and father.  Traveling with an infant is not easy at any time in history and it was fun to watch their roles adapt to both their personal and professional needs.  Once again, Hero is a strong sounding board to Sebastian’s inquiries while still doing some investigating on her own.  I really liked seeing her in a maternal role as well.

Not all of Sebastian’s ancestry questions are answered, but there is progress made.  I can’t wait to see what is revealed in the next story.

Who might like this book:
This is definitely one of my top two most favorite historical mystery series.  They are very well plotted and the characters are engaging.  The story lines tend to be a bit darker than some of the mysteries I read and there is a great deal of historical research.  I find that I have to concentrate a lot on how the history is evolving, along with the plotline.  I think I enjoy the seediness of the stories because they almost have a “true crime” feel . . . set in Regency England.  I can’t recommend these books enough!

If you haven’t read any of the series, start them in order.  Secrets are revealed along the way and you don’t want to spoil anything by reading out of order!!

What Angels Fear
When Gods Die
Why Mermaids Sing
Where Serpents Sleep
What Remains of Heaven
Where Shadows Dance
When Maidens Mourn
What Darkness Brings
Why Kings Confess
Who Buries the Dead

Four BOOKS I CAN’T WAIT FOR IN 2016 on Friday

Books for 2016

Four BOOKS I CAN’T WAIT FOR IN 2016 on Friday
New Year’s Resolutions are a staple of January but a much more enjoyable aspect of this month is the look at all the new books to be released in the year.  If you haven’t guessed yet, I am a bit detailed oriented.  I have a running list of my favorite authors and when they have scheduled new releases.  I search through Amazon and look up my favorite authors to watch for their latest books.  I keep a monthly schedule so I can either order the book or reserve it at the library.  As always, there are thousands and thousands of new books released each year, but these are four of the ones from some of my favorite authors that I am most excited about.

MARCH – C.S. Harris, When Falcons Fall
C.S. Harris is one of my foremost favorite authors and I absolutely love her Sebastian St. Cyr series.  I have written about this series previously in my Four FAVORITE MYSTERY WRITERS on Friday, and I feel that the series just keeps getting better and better.  Harris does an amazing job at telling a really great mystery that melds together all the beautiful and horrific elements of Regency London while creating engaging and captivating characters.  Every story is unique and allows the reader to truly become immersed in both the plot and setting.  Her characters are multi-dimensional and the reader feels that there is still so much depth to discover.

This is the eleventh book in the series and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the characters grow and evolve.  Sebastian and Hero seem to have found a common ground and have accepted each other and parts of their pasts, but if anything holds true for this series, there is always more to come.  I really appreciate how the author is able to both keep the story and characters fresh and exciting while still making the reader feel the comfort of old friends.  This new book also takes the characters from London which may allow them some more freedom away from society’s restrictions while providing the opportunity for new encounters and situations.

APRIL – Simone St. James, Lost Among the Living
I had to smile when I put this author and book on my list.  Six months ago, I had never read anything by Simone St. James.  Although I had picked up her first book The Haunting of Maddy Clare numerous times, each time I read the back I thought that it just wasn’t for me.  I picked up her newest release The Other Side of Midnight, devoured the book in a day, purchased everything else she had written, and kicked myself for “judging a book by its back cover!”

St. James’ book are individual stories but all take place post World War I and involve a bit of paranormal and a bit of romance.  They are very gothic and atmospheric, but don’t have the creepy horror factor that my over-active imagination avoids.  I am excited about Lost Among the Living because the premise involves a woman who lost her husband during the war and her time with his family divulges secrets that indicate that perhaps she didn’t know her husband as well as she thought.  It is a bit of a divergence from previous stories and I am looking forward to see what she does with it.

MAY – Anna Lee Huber, A Pressing Engagement (ebook)
JUNE – Anna Lee Huber, As Death Draws Near
Squeak!!  What is more exciting than one new book by a favorite author?  Two!!!  One of my very top favorite authors Anna Lee Huber has both an ebook and a full novel to be released this year.  Although I often have mixed feelings about ebooks, I will never squander any opportunity for more works to be written by a favorite author!  The ebooks allow an author to tell a small part of the character’s story that really can add dimension to the series.  A Pressing Engagement hints to look at the wedding between Kiera and Gage, and as always with these two, nothing is simple.  Readers who have followed the series from the start are truly looking forward to this gift.

The series will then continue in June with the fifth novel.  I like a little romance in my mysteries.  Sometime mystery books can become so bogged down in procedurals that they lose their empathy and humanity.  By blending the real human emotions with the pressing need to find justice and security, I think gives a story a greater sense of urgency and builds the anticipation.  Sometimes when the status of the characters’ relationship changes, the series can’t maintain tension and interest.  I have no fear of this with Huber’s newest book.  She has already hinted a bit at the evolving relationship between Kiera and Gage, and I am excited to see how their new status clashes with the societal expectations of a married couple and their own individual juggling of between part of a pair while still maintaining their independence.

AUGUST – Deborah Crombie, The Garden of Lamentations
It has been almost two years since the last Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James book.  To Dwell in Darkness was released in hardcover in September of 2014, and I am so excited to see that the next book in the series will be out this year.  The Garden of Lamentations is the seventeenth book in the series and I truly admire how the author has maintained the freshness and excitement with each new story.  The characters have evolved from working together, to being in a relationship, to being married with a family.  I love how Duncan and Gemma work on separate cases but often find that through the crimes committed or their own police partners or politics du jour, there is a commonality between the stories.

Another aspect I love about Crombie is that as an American, she seems to have such a grasp of the English culture and lifestyle.  I found that as an American reader, I notice how she highlights aspects of the English that are interesting to me as someone who doesn’t live in the UK.  I am curious if the UK readers find her stories as believable and fascinating as I do.

These are only four of the many books I am looking forward to in 2016.  What about you?  What new release of 2016 is top on your most anticipated list?