THE PARTING GLASS by Gina Marie Guadagnino {Review}


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


Devoted maid Mary Ballard’s world is built on secrets, and it’s about to be ripped apart at the seams, in this lush and evocative debut set in 19th century New York, perfect for fans of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith and Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin.

By day, Mary Ballard is lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, wealthy and accomplished belle of New York City high society. Mary loves Charlotte with an obsessive passion that goes beyond a servant’s devotion, but Charlotte would never trust Mary again if she knew the truth about her devoted servant’s past. Because Mary’s fate is linked to that of her mistress, one of the most sought-after debutantes in New York, Mary’s future seems secure—if she can keep her own secrets…

But on her nights off, Mary sheds her persona as prim and proper lady’s maid to reveal her true self—Irish exile Maire O’Farren—and finds release from her frustration in New York’s gritty underworld—in the arms of a prostitute and as drinking companion to a decidedly motley crew consisting of a barkeeper and members of a dangerous secret society.

Meanwhile, Charlotte has a secret of her own—she’s having an affair with a stable groom, unaware that her lover is actually Mary’s own brother. When the truth of both women’s double lives begins to unravel, Mary is left to face the consequences. Forced to choose between loyalty to her brother and loyalty to Charlotte, between society’s respect and true freedom, Mary finally learns that her fate lies in her hands alone.

A captivating historical fiction of 19th century upstairs/downstairs New York City, The Parting Glass examines sexuality, race, and social class in ways that feel startlingly familiar and timely. A perfectly paced, romantically charged story of overlapping love triangles that builds to a white-knuckle climax, this is an irresistible debut that’s impossible to put down.


THE PARTING GLASS is a beautifully written and heartbreaking tale of Mary Ballard, an Irish maid who becomes the unfortunate side of a love triangle with her mistress and her brother. The book is gorgeously written and well-researched, and really brings to life New York City in the 1830s and the struggle of Irish immigrants at the time. This is a strong character-driven novel that wraps up with a surprising ending. A bit long in parts, but well worth taking the journey with these unique characters. Impressive debut!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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Thoughts on Books (#16): Northern Encounter / Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Short Stories / A Discovery of Witches


Northern Encounter
Northern Encounter by Jennifer LaBrecque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed an uplifting change of pace from my usual dark suspense/thriller reads, and NORTHERN ENCOUNTER fit the bill perfectly. A romance set in Alaska is the perfect escape. I’ll probably never get there, so reading about it is the next best thing.

Clint is a Native Alaskan and wilderness guide who’s hired by Tessa, a videographer from Arizona. She’s come to the town of Good Riddance to film the magnificent landscape for her latest project. They feel an attraction to each other, though both have reasons for not wanting a relationship. The characters were strong, and their conflicts were realistic. Of course, I absolutely loved the small town Alaska setting. The secondary characters were likable and interesting too. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!


The Complete Short Stories
The Complete Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A motley collection of short stories from Poe (the complete collection!) – horror, suspense, comedy, detective, general life observations, even science fiction. At times the stories are too wordy, but Poe always entertains with his grand imagination. I greatly enjoyed Bob Thomley’s narration of the audiobook. ♥


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m finishing up this chunkster book today. I liked it, though maybe not as much as I thought I would. The world building was quite interesting, and I was impressed with the scientific and historical research. I’m very curious about the magical book Diana found, and why the various creatures want it.

On the flip side, the many descriptions of things — rowing, horseback riding, food, wine, hunting, etc — slowed the pace down. I liked witchy Diana, but never warmed up to Matthew. Does he get more likable in future books??

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES has been sitting on my TBR shelf for 8 years (!!!), so I’m glad I finally read it. Will definitely continue the series at some point.


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NO ESCAPE CLAWS by Sofie Ryan {Review}


Series: A Second Chance Cat Mystery, #6
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


Sarah Grayson and her feline ally Elvis get a chance to see if their sleuthing skills are up to scratch in the sixth installment of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

It’s fall in North Harbor, Maine, where Sarah owns a charming secondhand shop. A cold case heats up when Mallory Pearson appears at Sarah’s doorstep. Mallory’s father is in prison for negligence after her stepmother’s mysterious death in a house fire, but Mallory believes he’s innocent and asks the quirky team of senior citizen detectives who work out of Sarah’s shop to take on the case. With Sarah and Elvis lending a paw, they decide to try to give Mallory’s father a second chance of his own…


NO ESCAPE CLAWS is book six in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series (I’ve also read the first). Main character Sarah Grayson runs a lovely secondhand shop in North Harbor, Maine, along with a quirky group of her grandmother’s friends (known as the Angels). I could spend hours in her store.

The Angels are part-time detectives as well, and with Sarah’s help they solve local mysteries. Their latest case comes at the request of young Mallory Pearson, who wants them to prove her father is innocent of negligence in the death of her stepmother. Prison is a nightmare for him, but for some reason he doesn’t want help getting out. The mystery surrounding the suspicious death was a puzzler, and Sarah & the gang were smart about their investigation. I enjoyed tagging along!

My one quibble with the book was the large number of characters. Too many to keep straight at times, which made reading frustrating. Not only were there many speaking characters, but there were lots of “off screen” folks they talked about. Maybe it’s because I’ve missed many of the previous books?

Overall I enjoyed this cozy, and it made me want to catch up with the rest of the series!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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