Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Jennifer Ashley is so good at creating lovable and fascinating characters, I just want to eat them up (pun intended). Kat is much more astute than her profession as head chef requires, her observant and inquisitive mind is always looking for puzzles to solve, and one of her employers, Lady Cynthia, is more than happy to provide her with one. Asked to look into the disappearance of a few paintings from the wealth household of one of Lady Cynthia's friend's, it only takes Kat mere moments to sort out what's been going on. But more significant thefts have been happening around London too, in the dark underworld of the antiquities black market, and the mysterious and elusive Daniel McAdam is, of course, right at the heart of it.

Kat thinks herself too sensible to get involved with someone who jumps in and out of her life, someone she knows precious little about, but when a man turns up dead in the pawnshop Daniel is working undercover in and she's overwhelmed with concern for him, it's difficult to deny her feelings. We learn a little bit more about Daniel, but each morsel of information leaves us wanting second helpings.

Clever plots, witty dialogue, compelling characters, yummy food descriptions - what's not to love? I didn't want it to end.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: April in Paris, 1921 by Tessa Lunney

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Kiki Button, a former nurse and spy during WWI, is now a gossip columnist in post-war bohemian Paris who just wants to drown the memories of war with parties, booze, jazz, and sex... except her past isn't finished with her.

It sounds a little more exciting than it is. The majority of the first half of the book is primarily about Kiki hob-nobbing with the rich and famous, which is, to say the least, a bit boring. I understand it's setting the stage for the second half, but it's still boring. The author tries to keep things intriguing with sex scenes (though not very explicit) and constantly mentioning the mysterious and dangerous "Fox" character from Kiki's past and his poetically cryptic clues about finding a mole, but it fails to be quite as compelling as it's supposed to be, probably because he comes off more as creepy and stalker-ish than fascinating.

That said, it is well written with witty dialogue, and the characters do have well formed back stories. The second half was much more interesting and finally felt like there was a plot, but by that point I just wasn't hugely invested in it.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Revolving around the Grand Central Terminal of New York City, we are told the story of two different women in two different time periods. Slow paced but beautifully written, we gradually learn about the growing success of illustrator and artist Clara Darden just before the Depression and a tragic accident ruins her life. Fast forward, Virginia Clay in the 1970s is still reeling from surviving breast cancer only for her husband to divorce her. When she stumbles upon an old art school that used to exist in the Grand Central Terminal, she suddenly finds meaning and purpose in discovering what happened to Clara Darden and who the mysterious artist who called himself 'Clyde' really was. That's not to say it's a mystery. This novel is very much about the journey and learning about the characters, who are well fleshed out.

I adored the detailed descriptions of artwork and fashion and although it was slow paced, it was never boring. I enjoyed reading about both women come into their own and rediscover themselves.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

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