Book Review: Lord of Vice by Erica Ridley

Vice merchant Maxwell Gideon is wickedly handsome, sinfully arrogant, and devilishly ruthless. Rumour has it, his gaming hell has the power to steal souls and grant miracles. Truth is, Max only owns half of The Cloven Hoof. He’d buy out his silent partner if he knew the man’s identity. But it’s hard to focus on business matters when a fallen angel tumbles right into one’s lap…

Miss Bryony Grenville has a well-earned reputation as an unrepentant hoyden. But even the gossipiest of the pinch-faced matrons ruling High Society could never imagine the daughter of a baron secretly financing the ton’s most infamous gambling parlour. Its maddening, sexy proprietor doesn’t suspect a thing… and two can play at temptation!

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Book Review: The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

 

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot–the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket–returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in the London of 1930.

Returning home from a luncheon, Hercule Poirot is met at his door by an imperious woman who introduces herself as Sylvia Rule. “How dare you? How dare you send me such a letter?” Ignoring his denials, Mrs. Rule insists that she received a missive claiming he had proof she murdered a man named Barnabas Pandy and advising her to confess her crime to the police. Threatening the perplexed Poirot with a lawsuit, she leaves in a huff.

Minutes later, a rather disheveled man named John McCrodden appears. “I got your letter accusing me of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.” Calmly, Poirot again rebuts the charge. Each insisting they are victims of a conspiracy, Mrs. Rule and Mr. McCrodden deny knowing who Pandy is.

The next day, two more strangers proclaim their innocence and provide illuminating details. Miss Annabel Treadway tells Poirot that Barnabas Pandy was her grandfather. But he was not murdered; his death was an accident. Hugo Dockerill also knows of Pandy, and he heard the old man fell asleep in his bath and drowned.

Why did someone send letters in Poirot’s name accusing people of murder? If Pandy’s death was an accident, why charge foul play? It is precisely because he is the great Hercule Poirot that he would never knowingly accuse an innocent person of a crime. Someone is trying to make mischief, and the instigator wants Poirot involved.

Engaging the help of Edward Catchpool, his Scotland Yard policeman friend, Poirot begins to dig into the investigation, exerting his little grey cells to solve an elaborate puzzle involving a tangled web of relationships, scandalous secrets, and past misdeeds. 

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Book Review: Saga (Volume Two) by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

The smash-hit ongoing epic continues! Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents!

This is Volume two of the series, and volume 1 is reviewed here.

Alana, Marko and Hazel are on their ship, searching for their ghost babysitter Izabel – the one with the torso and no legs – who has been banished to another dimension by Marko’s parents. The story chops and changes with the timelines, and also from different view points. This includes Marko as a child and Marko and Alana’s courtship (and her reading from a rather trashy book from an author called D Oswald Heist). Marko’s mother goes with him to search for Izabel, whilst his father, Barr, stays with Alana and Hazel.   Alana doesn’t trust her father in law, but his actions during the book make her come to trust him – somewhat.

Meanwhile, one of Marko’s  exes (Gwendolyn) has teamed up with Lying Cat and The Will to hunt the family down, coming too close for comfort. Just so you know….THIS is Gwendolyn! (right)

Meanwhile, Prince Robot IV (the one with a monitor for a head) visits D Oswald Heist in hopes that the writer may hold some clue as to where his fan may have fled to – leaving the book in another cliff hanger!

Lovely artwork, there is some sexual content in it (so perhaps not right for too young readers) but beautifully rendered

Book Review: Five on Brexit Island

It is the night of the referendum and the Five have retired to Kirrin Island to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, fed up with the rancour of public debate. George is firmly a ‘remainer,’ whilst Julian, who is in the ‘Brexit’ camp, is tolerated on the grounds that Anne cannot bear to go camping without him. (Timmy, largely apolitical but not keen on cats or rabbits, joins them too.)
The night is tempestuous in more ways than one. George has managed to rig up a satellite link with the mainland so they can keep abreast of the news, and they sit huddled around the fire, amidst some tension, as George’s initial hope that the ‘remainers’ will triumph proves premature . . . 
Meanwhile, a violent storm whips up. The damage is apparent as the new day dawns and George declares a new meaning for Brexit: Kirrin Island is exiting Britain. . . . that is until the red tape becomes too much of a challenge and their happy life together is under threat.

This was a surprisingly clear on the Brexit debate for such a short book.  As usual, George and Julian are at odds with each other, with Julian firmly in the Brexit camp and George wanting to remain. They go to Kirrin Island as the results are announced, and in a heated moment, George tweets to her 200 followers that Kirrin Island was declaring independence from the UK.  The following morning finds George with 46,000 followers and Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin as the first visitors (in the unenviable position of having neither visas nor passports).

In the next few days, hundreds of Journalists descend on to the beach of Kirrin Island, asking questions about trade etc, and the most important question: have the 4 residents of the island been given the chance to vote before the declaration was made.  This results in several debates, where Julian comes across as more and more Boris Johnson-like. A new character is introduced in the form of Uncle Rupert, who coaches George as to how to deal with the press – at least until something newer and shiny appears, which means he (and most of the media) disappear overnight.

The vote is still undertaken – how will everyone vote?

Of course, this is only 100 or so pages long, so it’s actually interesting how much satire is included (well done Bruno Vincent for being able to include so much in so little).

Book Review: The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy

An orphan living with her Aunt and Uncle, Merula Merriweather has been secretly hatching and raising exotic butterflies in her uncle’s Hot House. She can’t take the credit but is satisfied with allowing her uncle to receive all the praise. A unique and large butterfly has hatched on the day of the the Royal Zoological Society lecture, so she is excited to take it along to show it off.

One of the guests at the meeting is Lord Raven Royston, who is shown early on to be a risk taker (some say gullible), after investing in some new pioneering schemes, which, had they worked, would benefit society. Unfortunately, many of them don’t work – it shows the quest to be on the cutting edge of things, and take risks, even if they fail.

Because of it’s large size, some people are sceptical that the butterfly is real, and when Raven challenges her to prove her butterfly is real, Merula releases the butterfly from its cage.

Unfortunately Lady Sophia collapses and soon after dies after the poor butterfly lands on her arm. In panic, the butterfly is destroyed and the Society accuse Merula’s uncle Rupert and he’s arrested for murder.

Being a witness and a possible accomplice, Merula’s wanted by the police so she goes into hiding, along with Lord Raven and some of his closest friends, including a Valet (who is really more than a valet) and a mad scientist friend, who helps them work out who really committed the murder, since murder is really what it was.  IN order to protect her family there is little contact, and that is via one of the maids.

Meanwhile there is also the deep grief that Raven has for his dead mother, whose death was either a sad accident or something more sinister (did she jump? was she pushed?). A terrible sadness permeates Raven’s family home, which is all but abandoned and staying there only adds to the sadness and mystery of the overall story.

There are lots of red herrings and plot twists – almost too many to remember and mention (leading perhaps to spoilers!).  So if you are looking for a Victorian set mystery, without all the clever CSI tricks and tools, with just a *hint* of a potential romance, then this is the story for you!

Book Review: Five give up the Booze by Bruno Vincent

 

Give up alcohol you say? Why, of course they can! Talk about an easy challenge! Five old friends set about this simple task and find all of a sudden that: the days are longer; they get to see each other for who they really are; the empty laughter of ordinary conversation is so much harder to fake. Yes, they’re saving money and losing weight, but the world itself seems to take on a slow, dreary inevitability. Soon they begin to snap at each other, and then fight – until they begin to wonder, have the Five at last found the challenge that will defeat them?

Written in the style of Enid Blyton but a little more grown up and self aware. The Famous Five are now well into the 40s, still hanging around in group, with various friends who come in and out of the story.

After a particularly heavy December, where Julian in particular is never actually sober, all 4 humans decide to give up drinking alcohol for January. This seems to be going swimmingly until they remember one important date – a wedding on the last day in January, and Julian is to be the best man (owing to the groom’s brother having been arrested a few weeks before).  The groom is a well known party animal so the stag party and the wedding are dreaded as likely to challenge to stay sober for the month.   The second half of this 100 page book is to do with the lead up to the wedding itself, with the stag dos, and hen parties and the actual wedding – all covering things that would never have found their way into the originals (including some shocking revelations)

  • Vincent does a reasonable job, keeping in the tone of Blyton, whilst in reality dealing with middle aged people with middle aged issues and modern day expectations. It’s not all about Ginger Beer now! (more like a crate of Port that Julian has hidden over Christmas, refusing to share).

Book Review: Lord of Secrets by Erica Ridley

 

Heath Grenville is the problem-solver for London’s elite. Unmask the devious cretin skewering the ton with audacious caricatures? With pleasure. His success should keep the powerful happy. But when his work leads him to a young lady outside his class, surely he won’t do anything so scandalous as to fall in love…

By day, Miss Eleanora Winfield is a proper, unremarkable paid companion. By night, Nora’s skillful hands sketch the infamous penny caricatures rocking high society. Nora desperately needs the money…and her anonymity. But how can she keep them both, when she’s fallen for the one man whose livelihood and reputation requires him to expose her?

From Netgalley, this is number 5 in this series, and I have read several of the earlier books, Lord Of Pleasure Lord of Night and Lord of Temptation.

Heath Grenville is the problem solver for London society, sorting out tawdry affairs etc that could embarrass his friends and relations. It also makes him privy to secrets that other people have, and which some people would pay anything to find out about.  One thing  he doesnt know is the identity of the person doing the caricatures that are cutting too close to the bone. It becomes clear that the person doing the drawings does not just hear about the events they draw, they were actually there when it happened.

Meanwhile he becomes enraptured by the red headed woman who appears at social events but seems remote and disengaged – till he realises that she is not in his class and therefore he shouldnt even be talking to her, never mind inviting her to dance. She has come to town to be a paid companion and her job relies on her not exciting any scandal. It turns out that she produces that caricatures to show her brother (who lives on the family farm with their grandparents) what’s happening whilst she’s away – it just so happens she cant read or write, so her only choice is to draw.

Unfortunately, it turns out that her brother has sold some of these pictures and they have landed back within London society, and are causing trouble. She tries to rectify things, but what she does only makes things worse. Meanwhile she tries to keep her distance from Heath, but he keeps pursing her – she doesnt know whether he already knows what she’s done, or for reasons more personal.

Anyway, we see some characters from previous books, shocks abound, and as per all good romances, things work out nicely in the end.