All the Little Liars

All the Little Liars (Aurora Teagarden, #9)All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

About this book:

Charlaine Harris returns to her Aurora Teagarden series with book 9, All The Little Lairs. This was my first Teagarden book and within the first 10 pages all I kept thinking was why I hadn’t put this higher up in my To Be Read pile?

I loved Aurora the minute I met her. I love Harris’ love for public libraries.

In All The Little Liars, Harris has woven a page-turning mystery set in a small town that is growing to a large suburb adjacent to Atlanta. Everybody knows everybody which is both quaint and aggravating. To top it off Aurora and her famous novelist husband, Robin Crusoe, are just getting adjusted to married life and the pregnancy they have kept hidden from friends and family. And because family traumas never have good timing, Aurora’s half brother, Philip, is now living with the newlyweds as he couldn’t deal with the separation of his parents. Everything seems new for Roe (Aurora) who is constantly thinking of this new life growing within her that is already making its presence known with morning sickness and exhaustion. All in all it seems like it is going to be a nice homey Christmas. That is until Philip and three other teenagers go missing.

Life immediate turns surreal, but Aurora and Robin can’t sit at home doing nothing. And we are happier readers because they don’t.

Calling All The Little Liars a page-turner doesn’t do it justice. I found myself with that avid reader problem: do I put down the book and get some sleep or stay up all night and have fun reading it until the end? For several days I only allotted myself 10 pages a day as I tried to extend my reading pleasure. But I got to the point where I couldn’t put down. I had to know. Much to my husband’s disappointment I gave in and read all night. I loved every single page all the way to the end. And I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise as I hugged the book and sad good-bye to Aurora — for now. I’m hooked on this series and the first eight books will be on reserve at my library today. Don’t miss out on this lovely read that feels like you have reconnected with a long lost friend and the two of you haven’t missed a beat in your friendship.

Learn about other books in this series:

– Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden, #1)
– A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden, #2)
– Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (Aurora Teagarden, #3)
– The Julius House (Aurora Teagarden, #4)
– Dead Over Heels (Aurora Teagarden, #5)
– A Fool and His Honey (Aurora Teagarden, #6)
– Last Scene Alive (Aurora Teagarden, #7)
– Poppy Done to Death (Aurora Teagarden, #8)

I received a free copy but voluntarily reviewed.

View all my reviews

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Wedding Night with the Earl

Wedding Night With the Earl (The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels Trilogy, #3)Wedding Night With the Earl by Amelia Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels Trilogy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Category: Romance – History – Regency
Author Website: http://www.ameliagrey.com/

The Series:

The Heirs’ Club only accepts titled gentlemen and the heir to the title as members. It must make interesting conversation at the family dinner table when the firstborn son is admitted but all additional sons are excluded. For three roguish young gentlemen this stuffy club is just the kind of place they feel compelled to liven up. Bray Drakestone, the future Duke of Drakestone, is the heir that opens the door to the stuffy gentlemen’s club; you’ll read about him in The Duke in My Bed (Book #1.) Harrison Thornwick, fourth son of the Earl of Thornwick, is one of Drakestone’s best friends that accompanies Drakestone to the club; you’ll learn more about Thornwick in The Earl Claims a Bride (Book #2.) Adam Greyhawke married young but after losing his wife and child he spent his days carousing and gambling with his two best friends; you’ll want to see how a grown up Greyhawke still seeks out his friends at the Heirs’ Club in the Wedding Night with the Earl (Book #3). Don’t miss out on the two holiday novellas that give insight into two other gentlemen who visit the Heirs’ Club; you’ll enjoy the holidays reading The Duke and Miss Christmas (Book #2.5) and Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis (Book #3.5).

My Review of: Wedding Night with the Earl (Book #3)

Our hero and heroine have both suffered. Adam Greyhawke married young only to lose his wife and first child.

Katherine Wright has been loved to the point of smothering ever since she became an orphan and then a ward of her elderly Uncle and Aunts. While Katherine has willingly and happily joined the Wilted Tea Society her Uncle insists she find a husband before the end of this – her third – season. Her Uncle will never rest until he has fulfilled his obligation to his deceased brother by securing Katherine’s future with a marriage to a proper gentleman. But Adam and Katherine have to face their physical and emotional fears that prevent them from living life to the fullest together.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone, yet when read in order Grey has woven a fuller dynamic storyline. While each book is a love story, Grey presents a deep friendship between the three heroes. And she does not forget the ladies’ friendships either. I can easily see a spinoff for the remaining ladies of the Wilted Tea Society. I would enjoy seeing them fall in love, too.

I liked Katherine and Adam. Grey did a wonderful job keeping their storyline realistic in their struggles yet ignites an instant attraction that builds every time they meet.
The Heirs’ Club series:
 The Duke in My Bed (Book #1)
 The Earl Claims a Bride (Book #2)
The Duke and Miss Christmas (Book #2.5
Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis (Book #3.5)
Disclaimer: The author sent me a paperback copy of Wedding Night with the Earl requesting a fair and honest review.

The Queen’s Fool

The Queen's Fool (The Tudor Court, #4)The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series:  The Tudor Court
Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: February 4, 2004
Category: Historical Fiction / Romance
Setting: London, 1548
Author Website: http://www.philippagregory.com/

About this series:

The Tudor Court series highlights several of the key women in Tudor history who have influenced England. Gregory has a unique talent for combining historical details with fictional portrayals giving readers intriguing stories stacked with knowledge. At the end of each book Gregory provides an Author’s Note section which will let you know where the fiction in her story deviates from history and how she has filled in the blanks. These are great stories that will entertain but I think they will also inspire some readers to do their own research and rediscover an appreciation for history. History doesn’t have to be the boring subject most high school curriculum would make you believe. Gregory should be the spokesperson for a new history ad campaign. We could avoid so many pains if we just took some time to look at our history and learn from our mistakes. The Tudor Court series contains both some success stories and some failures we could learn from.

About this book:

All Hail the Queen of Historical Fiction!  Long Live Philippa Gregory!

The Queen’s Fool is a page-turner; full of intrigue, desire, and lust in the Tudor court. Gregory, who is a master historian of Tudor power players, weaves entertaining plotlines with her Average Joe characters to give us a glimpse of how the rich and famous lived. Her main characters would be mere bit players in some other author’s books, but with Gregory’s crafting these average secondary characters come to life and take center stage with such realism and that it is hard not to think of them as real people. By the end of this book – and basically every novel Gregory has written – her characters feel so real that I often feel as if I’ve lost a great friend when I finish the last page.

In this offering, Gregory sets the stage at a critical point in England’s history. Young but sickly Edward VI, only child Jane Seymour (wife #3 for Henry VIII), dies suddenly at fifteen. King Edward was determined to keep England faithful to his father’s religion, the Church of England. To do so Edward excluded his Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon (wife #1 for Henry VIII), from inheriting his throne. But in doing so, Edward also excluded his Protestant half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn (wife #2 of Henry VIII). Lacking a clear heir, Edward picked his cousin, the daughter of Henry’s sister Mary, Lady Jane Grey to take the throne just before he dies.

However torn the people of England are between Catholicism and Protestantism (and thus between their love of both Princesses Mary and Elizabeth), they united against the usurper. Everyone realizes that Lady Jane is an innocent pawn in an attempt to capture the throne by her power-hungry relatives, but no one wants her to sit on the throne.

Confused yet by the troubling relationships of the English monarchy? Don’t worry! Gregory presents this complicated backstory in a much more interesting manner than my poor recitation. Amidst all this royal juggling, Gregory turns our attention to young Hannah Green. Taught all her life to hide who she is, Hannah falls under the spell of handsome Robert Dudley, who casts her as a Holy Fool with the gift of the Sight. Hannah, like the two Princesses, is influenced greatly by her mother. All three of were denied a mothers’ guidance. As a result, all three women must forged their own futures.

There’s a message in this story. Not a starch priest’s sermon. Not a cautionary tale of youth. But a message of hope. Please take the time to discover on your own the gifts that only Gregory, a talented wordsmith, could give readers. For example…

First, you might notice a different more human portrayal of Robert Dudley. Typically cast as a schemer, Gregory tempers Dudley’s political wheeling-and-dealing with a touch of kindness and romanticism that a real man would likely be conflicted with in such a powerful role. Secondly, I fell in love with Hannah like she was my best friend or a special sorority sister. Reading the final pages was painful, as I knew my time with the Holy Fool grew short.

But that is the wonderful promise of books, isn’t it? When times are tough, I can open The Queen’s Fool again. I’ll say “Hello” to an old friend, and find some strength and comfort between the pages for a few hours.

Learn about all books in The Tudor Court series:

Other books of interest: The Cousins’ War series

The Rules of Seduction

The Rules of Seduction (Rothwell #1)The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series:  Rothwell
Publisher: Dell
Release Date:  January 1, 2006
Category: Crime / Mystery
Setting:  London
Author Website: http://www.madelinehunter.com/

 

About this book:
Sadly, I read this book while recovering from an illness. I think it could have been a page turner but I could not hold my concentration that long. Having said that though, there were periods when I was able to completely lose myself within its pages which really is the highest compliment one can give any book and an author.

Alexia Welbourne is a classic romantic female. She is a poor relation dependent on the kindness of her cousins for her wellbeing. She does not let her situation get her down though, she has accepted her fate. But when her cousins lose their fortune and they are pinching pennies Alexia is turned out to find her own way in the world.

Ironically Alexia finds employment with Hayden Rothwell the very man who brought her cousins ruin. A cold man by all public accounts Alexia discovers there is a very warm man in private. Together the two encounter the troubles associated with a classic romance; which means that besides falling in love they also uncover the mysteries surrounding Alexia’s cousin.

Without giving anything away, I have to say that I didn’t see this turn of events coming; and I don’t think it was my weakened state of health that made me miss it. I literally said aloud, “Well, I didn’t see that coming” when the mystery was revealed. I hope I’m not the only one who talks to the characters in the book they are reading.

A thoroughly enjoyable read I look forward to finishing the rest of this series.

Learn about other books in this series: 

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook (Rothwell #4)The Sins of Lord Easterbrook by Madeline Hunter
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Title: The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
Series:  Rothwell Brothers
Publisher: Dell
Release Date:  January 27, 2009
Category: Crime / Mystery
Setting:  London
Author Website: http://www.madelinehunter.com/

About this book:
Hunter hooks us on the first page with a slightly humorous but dark and tortured Lord Easterbrook. She balances the story with a business-savvy and head-strong Leona Montgomery, whom you immediately know is going to disrupt his world. The passion between the two runs hot. Secrets could forever break their trust in one another. And solving long over-due mysteries could lead to murder.

What I like most about this book is that when one of the characters needs to deal with an issue Hunter has them have “the talk”. Both of these characters are “deal with it” kind of people. It would have driven me crazy if the characters skirted around issues for 100 pages. But Hunter – like her characters – isn’t afraid to deal with things head on and sometimes that means showing a character’s weaker side. Although no one would dare call Lord Easterbrook weak.

Has Lord Easterbrook sinned? Well, you’ll need to read the book and decide for yourself. But if he did sin it feels very, very good. Just ask Leona.

Learn about other books in this series:

Disclosure: I believe I won this book in a contest run by the author, publisher or a book website. I honestly can’t remember which one it was.

Enigma of China

Enigma of ChinaEnigma of China by Qiu Xiaolong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: An Inspector Chen novel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Category: Crime / Mystery
Setting: Shanghai, China
Author Website: http://www.qiuxiaolong.com/index2

About this book:

It is timely that as i write, the protesters are blocking the streets of Hong Kong and demanding more control from Beijing. The very premise of Xiaolong’s book Enigma of China is a government determined – no matter the cost – to keep harmony in a country that is increasingly dissatisfied with its government.

This is the first Inspector Chen novel I have read but it is the eighth book in the series. I was surprised that it didn’t feel like I was coming late to the table even when a few events from previous books were mentioned. And I very much enjoyed the mix of poetry within the prose of the story. It reminded me of theme music. If you have ever heard a movie scene without all the background music put it in, it sounds empty. That is how I would imagine Inspector Chen’s world would be without poetry. It was not a distraction but an accompaniment to the story that I very much enjoyed.

The mystery in this novel is politically intriguing and complex. Inspector Chen does his best to investigate without giving reasons for himself to be investigated. Which brings up one of the reasons I like to read books set in other countries. Poor health keeps me from traveling and I find most travel journals are not entertaining enough for my tastes. So I look for stories written by someone who has actually lived in another country and understands the culture. Those books, like Xiaolong’s, allows you to crawl inside that world and experience (for a little while anyway) what it is like to be there. For example, pay attention to Inspector Chen’s description of food. I’ve moved only a few states from where I was born and can’t get certain food items that were staples of my childhood diet. You can feel Xiaolong’s appreciation for China’s traditional food whenever Chen gets hungry; Xiaolong’s now lives in St. Louis.

So why didn’t I give this book – which I obviously enjoyed – five stars? I think it’s because I found the ending so uncomfortable. It certainly wasn’t the writing or the wrap up in the mystery; Xiaolong satisfies all the necessities on those scores so don’t worry you’ll know who “done it” in the end. But the very tension that Inspector Chen lives with in China hung heavy on my shoulders as I closed this book. I didn’t like it. So I am torn.

The reader in me wants to leave a book satisfied and possibly a little educated. Xiaolong did both very well. So I think on that hand it deserves five stars. But I’m agitated by the book. Something in my blood is nervous and unsettled and waiting for the other shoe to drop. How can I possibly move on to another book – any book – feeling this way? I feel like I need a reading palate cleanser. So as a reviewer I have to caution readers this book will make you feel as if you are left hanging. And so I only gave it four stars.

I may be splitting hairs with my rating but I think/hope Xiaolong is pleased that his book made me feel both the thrill of a good mystery and the oppression that has brought Hong Kong into the street this week.

Learn about other books in this series:

Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1)
A Loyal Character Dancer (Inspector Chen Cao #2)
When Red Is Black (Inspector Chen Cao #3)
A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)
Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)
Don’t Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)

India Black and the Rajah’s Ruby

India Black and the Rajah's RubyIndia Black and the Rajah’s Ruby by Carol K. Carr
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series:    Madam of Espionage Mysteries
Publisher:    Berkley
Release Date:   December 31, 2012
Category:   Crime, Mystery, Romance
Setting:  London
Author Website:      http://www.carolkcarr.com

 

About series:

 

Hands down, Carol K. Carr is one of my favorite authors. I love India Black because she is fun.  I appreciate her because she is smart enough to know when she needs help. And I want to be like her because she is independent enough to do her own thing; even when it goes against convention. These books are written as India’s memoirs. Hindsight is everything and India has a great power of observation as she looks back on her adventures.

 

About this book:

 

This novella-length prequel is available only in Kindle Edition and will introduce to you the fast-thinking heroine of the India Black series. This story takes place before India becomes the Madame of the Lotus and still is a working girl at another establishment. She manages to talk her way into a few days off to help out Philip Barrett, a suitor who needs a beautiful woman on his arm during a critical business meeting. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

 

Learn about other books in this series: