Book Review: What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

What She KnewIn a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…

My first audio book review:

It’s a parent’s worse nightmare to have one’s child being taken from you and not knowing what is happening to your child. The very thought of that happening is beyond disturbing to say the least. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to listen this audio book because of the subject matter. I knew it would be a hard pill to swallow listening to the telling.

Throughout the story I felt like I was holding my breath and I kept on repeating to myself for Ben to be found and for him to be alive. Not only that but Rachel-Ben’s Mother-struggles as people harassed her and thought the worse was heartbreaking.

As the story unfolds secrets are revealed and your sympathies and outrage deepens. Psychological thrillers are tough reads for many…this one wasn’t easy listening too but worth it.

I have to say, listening to a Psychological thriller rather than reading it had a deeper impact on me.

I’ve rated this book three stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Book Review: Ruler of The Night by David Morrell

ruler-of-the-night1885. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

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My Thoughts:

When I have presented Morrell’s De Quincey novels to various readers and friends-they had never heard of him. Thomas de Quincey was an English 19th century writer. At a young age he ran away from home and became addicted to opium. In the mid Victorian era in England, one was able to walk into a chemist’s shop and purchase the drug without a prescription from doctors. These types of dangerous drugs were used for making home remedies… de Quincey wrote a story called, Confessions of an Opium-Eater where Morrell draws a lot of his inspiration for his trilogy. Ruler of the Night is his third and final installment and is a fine ending to what is an outstanding Victorian mystery story.

The English Railroad during this era was a popular means of travel and the brutal murder that occurs on a train in the beginning of the story sets the tone for another intriguing mystery.

It was a true delight to read about Thomas de Quincey, his Daughter-Emily, Ryan and Becker-who are two detectives- and their dangerous adventures in finding a murderer. Their process of solving murder crimes is extraordinary and entertaining.

Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas de Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

I have rated this story four stars and obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Hello New Books!

I acquired these through NetGalley. I am looking forward to reading/reviewing these in the near future! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

Ghost Hampton

Ghost Hampton by Ken McGorry

Pub Date 26 Mar 2016

Lyle Hall, the most resented man in town, was also Bridgehampton’s most successful real estate lawyer. But his catastrophic car accident last year changed all that and forced his retirement. And it allowed him to see and hear things no one else could. That’s how Lyle met Jewel, the beautiful Victorian girl who appeared to him outside the long-ago brothel the Town of Southampton is about to tear down. The Victorian girl who’s been dead 100 years. And who told Lyle exactly when his own daughter, a local police detective, will die. She’s shown him Georgie’s headstone. Georgie has four days to live. Unless this is some kind of hoax. But the hordes of paranormal enthusiasts descending on Bridgehampton believe Lyle. And so does his new nemesis — a scheming TV reporter in high heels.

So close to home

So Close to Home by Michael J. Tougias, Alison O’Leary

Pub Date 02 May 2016 

A true story of men and women pitted against the sea during World War II—and an unforgettable portrait of the determination of the human spirit.

On May 19, 1942 a U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey fifty miles away from New Orleans. Captained by 29-year-old Iron Cross and King’s Cross recipient Erich Wurdemann, the submarine set its sights on the freighter Heredia with fifty-nine souls on board. Most of the crew were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians, including the Downs family, consisting of the parents, Ray Sr. and Ina, along with their two children, eight-year-old Ray Jr., nick-named “Sonny,” and eleven-year-old Lucille. Fast asleep in their berths, the Downs family had no notice that two torpedoes were heading their way. When the ship exploded, Ina and Lucille became separated from Ray Sr. and Sonny.

An inspiring historical narrative, So Close to Home tells the story of the Downs family as they struggle against sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration in their effort to survive the aftermath of this deadly attack off the American coast.

Michael Tougias is the author and co-author of twenty-three non-fiction books, including several true survival-at-sea adventures, such as Rescue of the Bounty, Fatal Forecast, Overboard!, A Storm Too Soon, and The Finest Hours (soon to be a major motion picture by Disney). Ten Hours Until Dawnwas selected as one of the American Library Association’s “Best Books of the Year.”

Alison O’Leary is a former reporter for the Boston Globe, a magazine editor, and a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.

The Memory of us

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio

Pub Date 31 May 2016

Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.

While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the Church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.

But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?

 

Review: Very Like A Queen by Martin Lake

Very much a queenAlice Petherton is well practiced at using her beauty and wits to survive in the Court of King Henry VIII. As the King’s favorite, she enjoys his protection, but after seeing the downfall of three of his wives, she’s determined to avoid the same fate. Alice must walk a fine line between mistress and wife.

She finds a powerful protector in Thomas Cromwell, and Alice has every reason to believe that she will continue to enjoy a life of wealth and comfort at Court…until she puts everything at risk by falling in love with a Frenchman, Nicholas Bourbon.

When Cromwell is executed, Alice loses her only ally and flees to France. There she hopes to live in peace with Nicholas. But Alice is lured into a perilous game of treason, and peace doesn’t last long. Will Alice get back the life and love she’s fought for? Or will she lose herself to the whims of a capricious monarch?

My review:

First, I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of this book. What first captured my attention was the title. I thought, how unusual and I liked it. Though with my busy schedule I read this novel in four days. I did NOT want to put it down. This is the first book I have read of Martin Lake and I am now a fan!

I love his portrayal of Cromwell! I actually like the man in this story. If you know the history, you know his demise and how Martin portrayed that was very powerful and believable. So many great men lost under Henry’s rule.

As I was reading the story I couldn’t help keep thinking that I am so glad I wasn’t alive or one of the members during King Henry VIII court. Yikes! The man’s moods were so up and down and vicious! As his health and eating habits became worse, the more suspicious and paranoid he became. What a miserable existence. One never knows what he will do to you if you made him mad!

I love Alice, though I would have liked to shake her sometimes! She couldn’t help but get herself in sticky situations! But she is a true testament of a survivor and wins the heart of many. I would like to read more about her.

There were several notable characters and locations in the story I enjoyed reading about. Nonsuch Palace, Dover Castle and the French Castles comes to mind and then there was Ralph Sadler, Suffolk. Cranmer, Norfolk-archival to Thomas Cromwell, Master Hans Holbein, Marillac, Katheryn Howard- to name a few…Brilliant character development there.

There is so much to this novel. I am adding this among my favorite Tudor stories. Truly a gem and so well written. I will be on the lookout for more books by Martin Lake!

I rated this book four stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins