THE UNSEEING by Anna Mazzola (Audiobook)


Publisher: Recorded Books
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


It is 1837, and the city streets teem with life, atmosphere, and the stench of London. Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Edmund Fleetwood, an idealistic lawyer, is appointed to investigate Sarah’s petition for mercy and consider whether justice has been done. Struggling with his own demons, he is determined to seek out the truth, yet Sarah refuses to help him. Edmund knows she’s hiding something but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone with a child would go willingly to their own death?

THE UNSEEING is a vividly written novel of human frailty, fear, and manipulation and of the terrible consequences of jealousy and misunderstanding.


Ripped from the headlines of 1837! Based on the infamous Edgware Road Murder and the trial that followed in London, THE UNSEEING blends facts and fiction to bring to life this disturbing historical mystery.

Who killed Hannah Brown and why? Sarah Gale, poor seamstress and single mother of a small boy, sits in dismal Newgate Prison, waiting to hang for her part in the grizzly murder. But was Sarah unfairly convicted? Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is sent to investigate. Edmund suspects she is not telling the whole truth about Hannah’s murder, which makes his job of saving her from the gallows very difficult.

This book was well researched and also gave readers an imaginative spin on the Edgware Road Murder. The author did a fantastic job conveying what life was like around the eve of the Victorian Era. It was difficult, to say the least, especially for a poor woman like Sarah. The pacing was slow in spots, and I was kind of annoyed that Sarah kept her secret from Edmund for so long. Clearly, he could be trusted, and Sarah had a child to consider too. I liked how the author had the crime and punishment play out in the end. It was fitting with the the actual events that took place.


Audiobook • 11 hrs, 26 mins • Liz Pearce, Narrator

I enjoyed Liz Pearce’s narration very much! There were several different characters from different classes, and her many accents were spot on and entertaining. I especially liked her voice for the awful prison guard Miss Sowerton. Her character was just as horrible as Newgate Prison itself!


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

AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED HOTELS by Jamie Davis Whitmer

hauntedhotels
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Release Date: October 8, 2016
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


Phantom footsteps pace the stairs at the Myrtles Plantation. A seductive spirit tugs on the sheets at the Copper Queen. Ghost children whisper and giggle at the Kehoe House. Journey into the mysterious world of haunted hotels, where uninvited guests roam the halls, supernatural sounds ring throughout the rooms, and chills run along the spines of those who dare to check in for the night.

Join Jamie Davis Whitmer, author of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, as she explores some of the most haunted hotels across the United States. From the Jerome Grand Hotel in Arizona to the Palmer House in Minnesota, each hotel is discussed in great detail, covering everything from the building’s history and legends to first-hand accounts of spooky sounds and smells, ghost sightings, EVP sessions, and more. You’ll also find photos, travel information, and everything else you need to plan your own visit to these iconic hotels.


AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED HOTELS would be a fun travel guide to have on a cross-country ghost tour road trip. This book highlights ten of the country’s notable haunted hotels, some familiar to me and some not. The author gives readers a brief history of the properties and why each is thought to be haunted. She also shares her own experiences at the hotels, and whether or not she got a feel for their resident spirits ― though no in depth ghost hunting takes place. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t spookier, but it gives plenty of info to stir up interest. Each hotel’s chapter concludes with reservation and contact information if you’d like to plan a visit.

My two favorites were the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, which was Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining, and the Crescent Hotel in Arkansas, which I’ve visited many times. Love it. The ghost tour was great spooky fun.

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

HER NIGHTLY EMBRACE by Adi Tantimedh (Audiobook)

hernightlyembrace
Series: Ravi PI, #1
Publisher: Atria/Leopoldo & Co
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


The first in a trilogy of whip-smart novels—currently in development as a TV series set to star Sendhil Ramamurthy (NBC’s Heroes and Heroes Reborn)—about a destructive private investigator and his eccentric coworkers, who handle cases so high-profile that they never make the headlines.

Ravi Chandra Singh is the last guy you’d expect to become a private detective. A failed religious scholar, he now works for Golden Sentinels, an upmarket London private investigations agency. His colleagues are a band of gleefully amoral and brilliant screw-ups: Ken and Clive, a pair of brutal ex-cops who are also a gay couple; Mark Chapman, a burned-out stoner hiding a great mind; Marcie Holder, a cheerful former publicist; Benjamin Lee, a techie prankster from South London; David Okri, an ambitious lawyer from a well-connected Nigerian immigrant family; and Olivia Wong, an upper-class Hong Kong financial analyst hiding her true skills as one of the most dangerous hackers in the world—all under the watchful eye of Roger Golden, wheeler-dealer extraordinaire, and his mysterious office manager, Cheryl Hughes.

Thrust into a world where the rich, famous, and powerful hire him to solve their problems and wash their dirty laundry, Ravi finds himself in over his head with increasingly gonzo and complex cases – and the recent visions that he’s been having of Hindu gods aren’t helping. As Ravi struggles to stay ahead of danger, he wonders if the things he’s seeing are a delusion – or if he might, in fact, be an unrecognized shaman of the modern world…


I heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I decided to give it a listen on audio. HER NIGHTLY EMBRACE is the first in a series that follows the investigations of Ravi Chandra Singh, P.I.

I enjoyed Ravi’s character. He’s smart, witty, flawed, and conflicted. He can see visions of Hindu Gods, or are they really there? They even tweet about him to each other. Ravi was once a religious scholar, but left his studies to become a teacher, a career that didn’t last long. Eventually he landed a job with an exclusive detective agency called Golden Sentinels.

This book is set up differently than I expected. Instead of having one central plot, the book is a collection of stories covering a different case Golden Sentinels is investigating. I think it worked pretty well. I do wish the secondary characters had been fleshed out a little more, which was probably harder to do jumping from story to story.

One note of caution: there is a lot of bad language in this book. A lot! After a while it became jarring and distracting. Swearing is fine when it’s called for, but this was a bit over the top for me.


Audiobook • 7 hrs, 30 mins • Sendhil Ramamurthy, Narrator

As the blurb says, this book is “currently in development as a TV series set to star Sendhil Ramamurthy,” so it makes sense that he would narrate the audiobook! Loved his performance as Ravi, and also did brilliantly with the other characters’ accents and mannerisms. I will definitely keep an eye out for HER NIGHTLY EMBRACE to come to the small screen.


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

THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES by Sarah Maine

The House Between Tides
THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES by Sarah Maine
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

THE HOUSE OF TIDES drew me in with its eerie crumbling mansion complete with a mysterious skeleton hidden inside. The story is set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and the land upon which Muirlan House sits is only accessible when the tides are out. The author created a wonderfully creepy Gothic atmosphere with this tumbledown house and isolated location.

The story alternates between different time periods – 2010, when Hetty inherits the house, and at the turn of the last century, when artist Theo Blake lived there with his young wife, Beatrice. While the murder mystery was intriguing, I had a hard time clicking with the characters, especially Hetty, who acted like a meek doormat a lot of the time. Beatrice was my favorite by far, she had spirit, though all the talk about Theo’s bird obsession slowed the pace down.

This book is a nice mix of quiet mystery/suspense, romance, and historical fiction. A bit slow in parts, but still kept me curious about the ending. 3.5 stars.

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

THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL by Susan Wiggs

BeekeepersBall
Series: Bella Vista Chronicles, #2
Publisher: MIRA
Released: June 24, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns to sun-drenched Bella Vista, where the land’s bounty yields a rich harvest…and family secrets that have long been buried.

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista’s rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel’s project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past.

But Isabel’s carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O’Neill arrives to dig up old history. He’s always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel’s kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper’s Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.

From “one of the best observers of stories of the heart” (Salem Statesman-Journal), The Beekeeper’s Ball is an exquisite and richly imagined novel of the secrets that keep us from finding our way, the ties binding us to family and home, and the indelible imprint love can make on the human heart.


It’s wonderful to visit Archangel again! I fell in love with the charming fictional town in the first book, THE APPLE ORCHARD. Susan Wiggs’ gorgeous descriptions of Sonoma County make me want to jump inside her books.

THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL picks up where the first book left off. Sisters Tess and Isabel are planning Tess’ wedding at the family estate called Bella Vista. Isabel is also living out her dream of opening a cooking school in their home. Isabel is a workaholic and a bit of a hermit. She’s been hiding out at Bella Vista for years because of a painful experience in her past. Along comes Cormac (Mac) O’Neill, a battered journalist hired to write her grandfather’s life story, and he challenges her to shed her protective cocoon.

The story alternates between present-day Archangel and World War II Denmark. More family secrets are revealed as Magnus shares his past as part of the Danish resistance movement. I liked how we got some answers to questions from the first book, though the author leaves us with a major unresolved twist at the end!! I can only hope this means there’s a 3rd book in the works.

The romance in this book was okay – not the greatest. Maybe the chemistry between Mac and Isabel was lacking, or maybe their story was overshadowed by the World War II parts. This book didn’t flow as smoothly or have as strong a focus as the first. Still, I thought it was a good read, and like I said before, I’m hopeful there will be another book to tie up the surprise loose ends.

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