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The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin(May 31, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1250055636

An Amazon Best Book Water shrouds the fascinating, often doomed characters of The Book of Speculation. Featuring mermaids, swarms of horseshoe crabs, deadly floods, and the silent secrets of an ancient tarot deck, The Book of Speculation is split like a savory peach between the odd ventures of a traveling carnival in the late 1700s and the modern-day discovery by librarian Simon Watson of an old, handwritten volume containing his grandmother’s name. The water-damaged book may reveal the root of certain mysteries in his family, such as why the women can hold their breath far, far longer than normal, and the inexplicable reason they have all drowned while young women on the exact same date—a date that is only a few days away as the book begins. When Simon’s sister, Enola, unexpectedly returns home, vibrating with an angry sadness Simon has never seen before, Simon dives deeper into the book and the dark waters of their family history, hoping to change what he fears is her destiny. Erika Swyler has written an engrossing literary tale-spinner with an assurance rarely mastered in debut novels, allowing a well-placed detail or a lyrical phrase to paint a character or sketch even as she builds tension like a pro. As Simon grows obsessed with unraveling the secrets in his book, so will you become bewitched by The Book of Speculation.

I picked this book up at a thrift store. The cover read like it was more of a family mystery then anything else.  And it was!  It was a nice break from detective books.  It read a lot like digging up ancestry, but in this case it wasn’t just an interest… it turned into fear for life.

I read it pretty quickly so that means it held my interest, and it did have some surprises along the way.

I was never much into "side shows" or Tarot cards, but in this case it worked well.  By the end of the book I was wondering how people put so much belief in Tarot cards..  and made me curious at the same time .  Has anyone ever had the fortune told?

Coffin Road

Coffin Road by Peter May.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Quercus (October 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1681443899

 

Amazon Review

In his latest mystery set in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, award-winning author Peter May spins a tale about three disparate cases that may or may not be linked…
On the remote Isle of Harris in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, a man washes up on a deserted beach, hypothermic and completely disoriented. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his condition is a map of the island showing a desolate, ancient path called the Coffin Road. With a sense of dread and no clear idea what lies at the other end, he knows he must follow the trail if he has any hope of discovering his identity.
Meanwhile, homicide detective George Gunn makes the rough ocean crossing to a remote, sea-battered lighthouse on a rock in the northern Atlantic, twenty miles west of the Outer Hebrides, to investigate a brutal murder. Despite its isolation, the tiny island has seen its share of tragedy: more than a century earlier, three lighthouse keepers disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. And now there is a new tragedy, and Gunn must figure out what happened.
At the same time, a teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her father’s death. Two years after the discovery of the pioneering scientist’s suicide note, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that her father would willingly abandon her. And the more she discovers about the nature of his research, the more she suspects that suicide had nothing to do with it.

I am not sure if it’s Peter May’s writing that I like so much..or.. where he puts me for his story.  I can’t say that I like this book "better" then "The Lewis Trilogy" but I know I had no problem in wanting to "read more" each day.

This is a hard review for me.  When my son passed away I was reading a different book. One in which I really thought I could get into.  However, after reading 200 of the 400 pages I could not get into it. I felt as if I was reading the same things over and over.  I don’t know if it was the book, or my not being able to put my mind into the book.  And so, this book.. helped somewhat. I knew what was going on and felt that I was able to want to know the outcome.

This is a good stand alone book, but if I had my druthers I would recommend The Lewis Trilogy to anyone who thinks they want to be in a place they never thought they would be.

And so.. I end 2016 having read only 43 books. I thought I would hit 50 but life got in the way.  Maybe 2017 will give me more interesting books to read.  Here is the list of what I read this year.:

1..The Murder Man………………….Tony Parsons……….(384 pgs)
2..Strings of Murder…………………Oscar De Muriel…….(406 pgs)
3..The Haunting of Maddy Clare……Simone St. James……(329 pgs)
4..The Vanishing……………………Wendy Webb…………(304 pgs)
5..Jack Kennedy Elusive Hero……..Chris Matthews……..(496 pgs)
6..These Few Precious Days……….Christopher Andersen..(336 pgs)

7..Inspector of the Dead…………..David Morrell……..(352 pgs)
9..Jackie After Jack……………….Christopher Andersen.(427 pgs)
10.Empty Mansions………………..Bill Dedman……….(456 pgs)
11.Cover of Snow………………….Jenny Milchman…….(326 pgs)
12.Things Half in Shadow………….Alan Fin………….(448 pgs)

13.The Lake House…………………Kate Morton………(512 pgs)
14.Wild Fell………………………..Michael Rowe……..(180 pgs)
15.Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey….Jessica Fellows…..(127 pgs)
16.Uprooted……………………….Naomi Novik………(456 pgs)
17.Anatomy of Evil………………..Will Thomas………(336 pgs)
18.House on an Irish Hillside………Felicity McCoy……(320 pgs)
19.The Silent Sister……………….Diane Chamberlain…(368 pgs)

20.Pretty Girls…………………….Karin Slaughter…..(416 pgs)

21.The Black Box…………………..Michael Connelly….(480 pgs)
22.Cracks in the Sidewalk…………..Bette L. Crosby…..(332 pgs)
23.A Memory of Violets……………..Hazel Gaynor……..(432 pgs)
24.The Midnight Rose……………….Lucinda Riley…….(496 pgs)
25.The Likeness……………………Tana French………(466 pgs)

26.Faithful Place…………………..Tana French……..(400 pgs)
27.Since She Went Away………………David Bell………(412 pgs)

28.Broken Harbor……………………Tana French……..(450 pgs)
29.The Burning Room…………………Michael Connelly…(576 pgs)
30.The Buried Giant…………………Kazuo Ishiguro…..(336 pgs)

31.Black Rabbit Hall…………………Eve Chase……….(384 pgs)
32.The Silent Girls………………….Eric Rickstad……(416 pgs)
33.The Woman who Walked into the Sea…..Mark D Home….(352 pgs)
34.The Life we Bury………………….Allen Eskens…….(303 pgs)
35.Every Dead Thing………………….John Connolly……(512 pgs)

36.Carved in Bone……………………Jefferson Bass…..(352 pgs)
37.Who Buries the Dead……………….C.S. Harris……..(352 pgs)
38.The Thirteenth Tale……………….Diane Setterfield..(406 pgs)
39.Abomination………………………Colleen Coble……(336 pgs)
40.The Hidden Child………………….Camilla Lackberg…(526 pgs)

41.The Uninvited…………………….Cat Winters……..(343 pgs)
42.The Sound of Glass………………..Karen White……..(448 pgs)

43.Coffin Road………………………Peter May……….(392 pgs)

So many books…  so little time.

The Sound of Glass

The Sound of Glass by Karen White.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: NAL;(April 5, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0451470907

Two years after the death of her husband, Merritt Heyward receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by his reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.
In Beaufort, the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old  half brother.
Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low country.

I have read several books by Karen White and enjoyed them all.  She has written many more but at times when I read reviews they just aren’t for me, but, the ones I have chosen have been very good and I even have one on my wish list yet!

This is a very touching story of a woman beginning her life over again after the death of her husband.  She inherits her mother-in-laws old home in South Carolina and decides to start life again there, and moves from Maine to South Carolina.

Many interesting life stores rolled into one in this book, along with a love story.  There is more then one kind of love and there are more then one type in this book.  Typically I am not a love story reader but some have the knack to pull me in and this is one of them.

I enjoyed the book and hope one day to get another book of hers to read.

The Uninvited

The Uninvited by Cat Winters.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062347330

 

 

Amazon Review:

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains.  For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

The Uninvited is an atmospheric, haunting, and utterly compelling novel.

Ok, so…. this had a very unexpected ending!  This is a good thing ! I am not the brightest bulb in the pack but I truly didn’t pick up on any hints that the ending would be as it was!

Once again a book I read is set in wartime. Even "American Germans" are shunned against.  There is so much hatred around, it was not a nice time to live.  I feel as if Cat Winters has her own strong feeling written in this book as well as her fictional story…

In it she writes as the German young man:

Since my immigration, I have learned that Americans have belittled, beaten and killed their black and native citizens for centuries.  The recent number of abused and murdered Germans and other foreign-born residents seems relatively small in comparison to the crimes against the nonwhites of this country.  Yet this added surge of hatred only proves that America has no right sailing to foreign lands in the name of protecting freedom-not when we’re  steeped in the mire of violent inequality here at home.

I will leave it at that… and, just ask:  do you believe in ghosts?

The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg.

Hardcover: 526 pages
Publisher: Pegasus (May 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1605985538

    

 

Amazon Review:

The brilliant new psychological thriller from worldwide bestseller Camilla Läckberg―the chilling struggle of a young woman facing the darkest chapter of Europe’s past.

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be .

I wasn’t real sure about this book but it turned out to be very enjoyable!  If there was one drawback it was trying to figure out how to say Sweden and German names!  Other than that.. I really liked it.

The background is the time and place in which it took place. The time was 1943-1945 during the ending of WWII.

There was everything you would want in this book.  Many "secrets" to be figured out.  A few murders to figure out.  And how the combination of everything comes together!

I surprised myself at reading a book over 500 pages before October ended.  But I did!  Finished the book yesterday and trying to post it here on Halloween!

This was  an interesting book that was also filled with a historical time and how people managed in such a horrid time.  I will admit that the time period and it being "historical fiction" it helped a lot.  If you are in to figuring out mysteries and "family secrets" this well might be a book for you!

Abomination

Abomination by Colleen Coble.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 11, 2008)
ISBN-10: 159554478X

 

 

A beautiful woman stands by the side of the road, barefoot and bleeding, a child in her arms. Someone just tried to kill her, but she wouldn’t recognize him if she saw his face. She doesn’t even remember her own name.
A suburban cop surveys a kitchen in disarray–a woman and child missing, a chilling note. This crime scene is unlike any he has ever seen.
The man who calls himself Gideon waits and plans. He sees himself as a destroyer of evil, one who rids the world of abominations. He has already killed five. He will kill again.
And somewhere in the wilderness, in a secret geocache near where the wild swans gather, lies the unspeakable clue that links them all together.
Michigan’s rugged and beautiful Upper Peninsula is the setting for this absorbing tale of love and loss, beauty and terror, grievous sins and second chances. A deftly woven thriller from the popular author of the Rock Harbor novels.

I enjoyed this book.  There were a few back stories along with the search for the serial killer. 

The writing was quite good and easily followed.  With the woman having amnesia it gave me a feeling that any moment she would remember…   I can’t even imagine not remembering your whole life!  There is the back story of her X-husband and why they divorced.  And surprises along the way. 

She hid the killer really well.  I had no idea until it was obvious.

Like I said, it was a good read. I had never heard of this author before (and found out she has LOTS of books out and many happen in the same place that this one occurs, so if you like the book.. there are many more!

Onward to my next read!……………..

The Thirteenth Tale

Book 7 (and the last) book for RIP……….

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0743298039

Amazon.com Review
Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.

There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father’s shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it’s the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:

"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."

She [Vida] shrugged. "It’s my profession. I’m a storyteller."

"I am a biographer, I work with facts."

The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida’s plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story’s end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told.

This is the fourth time that I have read The Thirteenth Tale for the RIP challenge.  And since I do not write reviews well anymore…. this is what I wrote about it the last time I read it in 2008……………

Although this is a mystery.. and I do know the outcome, I still enjoyed reading this book.  Maybe it’s because I am older and forget more, and forget it more quickly, I’m not sure.  But I do know that as I began the book, it did not take long to grab hold of me to begin me on the journey that Margaret was about to begin when she decided to write Vida Winter’s biography.

For anyone who loves books this is a good book to read.  In the beginning of the book, when Margaret was not sure she wanted to do the biography, while in her apartment  I came across this passage of Margarets behavior:

It was nearly time.  I moved swiftly.  In the bathroom I soaped my face and brushed my teeth.  By three minutes  to eight I was in my nightdress and slippers, waiting for the kettle to boil. Quickly, quickly.  A minute to eight my hot water bottle was ready, and I filled a glass with water from the tap.  Time was of the essence.  For at eight o’clock the world came to an end.  It was reading time.

I can’t tell you how many times I have come close to this exact statement! At about seven each night I shut down my computer, turn off the living room television and fan and get ready to pile up my pillows on my bed to lean against and to grab my current read and "hit the bed to read"! Nearly ALL the time.. same routine!

This book, as it has done three other times, just takes a hold of me and I read way more hours than I normally do. I don’t seem to get as tired as quickly and one chapter leads to another and another as that’s how this story goes..I just could not put it down.

You find yourself wondering if you missed a clue to anything. (and more than likely you have, but that’s ok you will remember them when the time is right.) And other times you find yourself trying to figure out a piece of the story before it is revealed by Vida Winter. 

This is such a fantastic book.  The writing just refuses to let you go and do anything but continue reading, and once you are sucked into the mystery (which doesn’t take long!) you just have to know those untold secrets !

It’s so much fun when the secrets begin to emerge and you find yourself asking why you missed the clues!  So subtle.  But they are all there!

I finally let it go knowing I would come back to it some day…. I am shocked that I let it go this long, but I did enjoy it as much as the first time I read it……….Yeah.. in my opinion.. The Thirteenth Tale is that good!