Review: The Secret of the Old Clock

Title: The Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlop
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: 1930
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. To the surprise of many, the Topham family will inherit wealthy Josiah Crowley’s fortune, instead of deserving relatives and friends who were promised inheritances. Nancy determines that a clue to a second will might be found in an old clock Mr. Crowley had owned and she seeks to find the timepiece. Her search not only tests her keen mind, but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

Review:

It’s been many years since I first read this book. I recently watched the walkthrough on YouTube for the game version, and I wanted to read the book again. It wasn’t my favourite Nancy Drew game, so I was curious to revisit the book.

It may be my modern way of thinking, but I found the characters way too trusting. All of them told Nancy their financial troubles right after meeting her. It seemed strange for them to tell her all of their business immediately. I know it’s fiction, but it was so unrealistic and unusual.

Though some parts of this story were unrealistic, it is still a classic because it is the beginning of Nancy Drew’s mysteries.

What to read next:

The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

Have you read The Secret of the Old Clock? What did you think of it?

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Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

Review:

I was hooked on this story right from the beginning. It was so intriguing. Hal received a letter saying that she was going to receive an inheritance from her grandmother who just passed away, but her grandparents had died years ago. Since she needed money, she decided to play along with the family. However, she ended up getting tangled up in their complicated family.

The story was quite fast-paced. Everything moved quickly with new twists in every chapter. When I thought I had it all figured out, I discovered I was wrong, which kept me in suspense. I also loved that Hal was a tarot card reader. It added to the mystery of the story.

I loved this mystery! I highly recommend it!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Have you read The Death of Mrs. Westaway? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Hummingbird Dagger

Title: The Hummingbird Dagger
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

1833. After young Lord James Ellerby witnesses a near-fatal carriage accident on the outskirts of his estate, he doesn’t think twice about bringing the young woman injured in the wreck to his family’s manor to recuperate. But then she finally regains consciousness only to find that she has no memory of who she is or where she belongs.

Beth, as she takes to calling herself, is an enigma even to herself. She has the rough hands of a servant, but the bearing and apparent education of a lady. Her only clue to her identity is a gruesome recurring nightmare about a hummingbird dripping blood from its steel beak.

With the help of James and his sister, Caroline, Beth slowly begins to unravel the mystery behind her identity and the sinister circumstances that brought her to their door. But the dangerous secrets they discover in doing so could have deadly ramifications reaching the highest tiers of London society.

Review:

I love Cindy Anstey’s books! They are set in the 19th century, which is my favourite time period to read about. However, the subject matter is something that couldn’t have been written about during that time. In this story, there is a kidnapping and murder.

The cast of older teenagers have to search out the answers as to who the young lady is that was involved in an accident. She lost her memory, so they have the difficult task of finding her identity. I loved the characters. They reminded me of Jane Austen characters. Their family friend, Mrs. Thompson, especially reminded me of Mrs. Bennet in the way that she was really clueless to the things that were going on around her.

The mystery of the story kept me guessing until the end. I loved the ending. This is a great historical, YA mystery!

What to read next:

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

About the Author:

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

Author Links:

https://twitter.com/CindyAnstey
https://www.cindyanstey.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13795420.Cindy_Anstey
https://www.facebook.com/Cindy-Anstey-1495828024028504/

Buy the book:

Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/b5xWN6?store=amazon
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hummingbird-dagger-cindy-anstey/1128119401?ean=9781250174895#/
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/the-hummingbird-dagger/id1394085034?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-hummingbird-dagger

Thank you to Expresso Book Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour.

Have you read The Hummingbird Dagger? What did you think of it?

Review: The Golden Tresses of the Dead (Flavia de Luce #10)

Title: The Golden Tresses of the Dead (Flavia de Luce #10)
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Although it is autumn in the small English town of Bishop’s Lacey, the chapel is decked with exotic flowers. Yes, Flavia de Luce’s sister Ophelia is at last getting hitched, like a mule to a wagon. “A church is a wonderful place for a wedding,” muses Flavia, “surrounded as it is by the legions of the dead, whose listening bones bear silent witness to every promise made at the altar.” 

Flavia is not your normal twelve-year-old girl. An expert in the chemical nature of poisons, she has solved many mysteries, sharpening her considerable detection skills to the point where she had little choice but to turn professional. So Flavia and dependable Dogger, estate gardener and sounding board extraordinaire, set up shop at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, eager to serve—not so simple an endeavor with her odious little moon-faced cousin, Undine, constantly underfoot. But Flavia and Dogger persevere. Little does she know that their first case will be extremely close to home, beginning with an unwelcome discovery in Ophelia’s wedding cake: a human finger.

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, since it’s the 10th in a series and I haven’t read any of the others. It was so good! The Boston Globe described Flavia as Eloise meets Sherlock Holmes, and I think that’s a perfect description of her.

Flavia is a great character. She’s a twelve-year-old who loves chemistry and solving crime. Along with her family’s butler, Dogger, she sets out on solving murders. Though Flavia is mature since she is solving the crimes in her small English town, she is still a kid. She personifies her bicycle, called Gladys. That gives her an innocence and reinforces the fact that she’s still a little girl. Though she’s a child, the subject of this book is for adults, not kids.

The ending of the story was good. Some clues were left unsolved, however I think this makes it realistic rather than unfinished. In real life, not every clue will lead to the solution, so I think this is reflected in the end of this mystery.

I loved this book and I will definitely read more books in this series!

What to read next:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce #9) by Alan Bradley

Have you read The Golden Tresses of the Dead? What did you think of it?

Review: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

Title: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories 
Author: P.D. James
Genre: Mystery, Short Stories
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’ P.D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the very best of these have been rescued from the archives and are published together for the first time. P.D. James’s sparkling prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at enforced family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide enjoyable puzzles to keep the reader guessing. 

From the title story about a strained country house gathering on Christmas Eve, another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh — each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric story-telling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.

Review:

This is a festive collection of murder mysteries. This is the second collection of P.D. James stories that I’ve read, and I find her stories a little disappointing. I find that many of her stories don’t end in justice being served. That was the case in some of these stories.

I didn’t like the ending of The Mistletoe Murder, because I thought it was too obvious. The Boxdale Inheritance was very complicated, and I think it would have been better as a full novel because there were so many characters. The Twelve Clues of Christmas was anticlimactic, even though it was about an unusually, staged suicide on Christmas. I liked A Very Commonplace Murder the best because it was unpredictable, and I couldn’t guess the ending.

If you like P.D. James, I’m sure you will love this collection. However, it didn’t work for me.

What to read next:

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1) by P.D. James

Have you read The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories? What did you think of it?

Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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Title: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed—again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend—but nothing and no one is quite what they seem.

Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

Review:

This is a unique mystery. It’s Groundhog Day meets Freaky Friday in an Agatha Christie novel.

I couldn’t put this book down for hours. There were loads of twists at the beginning so I had no idea where the story was heading.

I liked how the story ended. However, I didn’t like the explanation for how the main character entered the loop of living the day over and over to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder. I wish that background was either explored more in the story or simplified. It seemed like the start of a side story but it wasn’t detailed enough.

The title is confusing I’m not sure why sometimes it is the 7 deaths and other times it’s the 7 1/2 deaths. I understand what the deaths are, but not why there are two different numbers in the titles. If anyone knows, I’d love to hear it.

I loved this book! If you like a suspenseful thriller in the style of Agatha Christie, you’ll love this book.

What to read next:

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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  • The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

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Have you read The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? What did you think of it?

Review: Queen’s Progress (Kit Marlowe #9)

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Title: Queen’s Progress (Kit Marlow #9)
Author: M.J. Trow
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As advance guard for the Queen’s Progress, Christopher Marlowe tackles murder and intrigue within some of England’s grandest stately homes.May, 1591. When Queen Elizabeth decides to embark on a Royal Progress, visiting some of the grandest homes in England, her new spymaster, Sir Robert Cecil, sends Kit Marlowe on ahead, to ensure all goes smoothly. But Marlowe’s reconnaissance mission is dogged by disaster: at Farnham Hall, a body is hurled from the battlements; at Cowdray Castle, a mock tournament ends in near tragedy; at Petworth, a body is discovered in the master bedroom, shot dead.

By the time he reaches Chichester, Marlowe fears the worst. Are the incidents linked? Is there a conspiracy to sabotage the Queen’s Progress? Who is pulling the strings – and why? To uncover the truth, Marlowe must come up with a fiendishly clever plan.

Review:

This is the first book I’ve read in the Kit Marlow series, and I loved it. Even though I haven’t read the other books, I still understood everything. Some of the characters weren’t described in detail, because they were probably introduced in past novels, but it wasn’t a big problem.

I loved the mystery elements of the story. I had no idea what the solution would be. Each of the stops on the planned route of the Queen’s Progress had to be cancelled due to a commotion or death on the property. Each situation seemed so unique that I wondered how they could be connected. The mystery came together in a great ending.

Some of Christopher Marlow’s contemporaries were in the story. Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, was an important character. Will “Shaxsper” also made a couple of appearances in the Rose theatre. I loved how he made up words when he spoke to other people, because he created many of the words that we use today.

I loved this story, and I will definitely look for more in this series in the future!

Have you read this book or the series? What did you think?