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Laura P

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The Penny Heart
The Penny Heart
by Martine Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

5.0 out of 5 stars 'I swear on this heart to find you one day . . . ', 30 July 2015
This review is from: The Penny Heart (Paperback)
It was perhaps inevitable that I would love Martine Bailey’s second novel, The Penny Heart. I was a huge fan of her debut, An Appetite for Violets and once again she has returned the Georgian period. What makes The Penny Heart even more exciting is the Gothic world in which it immerses the reader. In a nod to the popular novelists of the era, Bailey creates a neglected old house with dark secrets to unearth.

There are two heroines to this story. The first we meet is the indomitable Mary Jebb, a flame-haired beauty working the Manchester streets as part of a criminal gang. Teased out with perfect precision, the story reveals a more tortured and yet sympathetic character with every scene. Bailey balances condemnation with a brilliant pathos that really strikes at the heart of this woman and her need for revenge. While she is by no means a nice person, Mary’s reactions are believable given the life she has endured. And perhaps it’s just me, but I couldn’t help rooting for her a little – even if her plans were evil. She is one of those characters you just love to hate.

I also found the character of Mary’s victim, Grace, compelling and extremely sympathetic. Bailey has done an excellent job of making her a woman of her time, whilst giving her just enough spirit to get the reader onside.

While both heroines are wonderful characters, it is clear that only one can survive. As the story begins to unravel, the women realise how they have underestimated each other. It all comes down to a thrilling battle of wits and nerve – I literally could not put the book down for the last quarter!

I would highly recommend The Penny Heart for a historic, disturbing and wonderfully exciting read!


Murder on the Minneapolis
Murder on the Minneapolis
by Anita Davison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deadly cruise, 24 Jun. 2015
'm a big fan of this author's work, so I was excited to read the first installment in her new mystery series. It did not disappoint. Along with the sparkling dialogue and likeable characters I have come to expect, I found an intriguing, page-turning 'whodunnit'.

Our heroine Flora is a governess, escorting her charge Edward home from American on the SS Minneapolis. Her position is a difficult one, as she finds herself in first class accommodation and forced to socialize with those who look down upon her. Only the elusive Mr 'Bunny' Harrington treats her as an equal. But rules of class and society are thrown to the wind when a death takes place on board the ship.

While the death is dismissed as an accident, Flora believes it is murder. Keen to keep Edward safe, she sets out to find the killer, confronting dark ghosts from her own past along the way. It becomes clear that everyone on board hides a secret as the mystery unravels toward the electrifying conclusion.

Murder on the Minneapolis brings the elegance and grandeur of an early 1900s ocean liner to life in glorious detail. The characters leap off the page and the mystery has satisfying twists and turns. Bizarrely, I think the best way I can describe it is 'Titanic meets Miss Marple'! A must for all cosy mystery fans.


Girl With a Pearl Earring
Girl With a Pearl Earring
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 21 Jun. 2015
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It was a bit of a slow burner but I thoroughly enjoyed this subtle and poignant story. The character of Griet was refreshingly different and held my interest. Great, atmospheric read.


The Second Empress
The Second Empress
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 21 Jun. 2015
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Another excellent read from Michelle Moran, full of drama and period detail.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £4.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 21 Jun. 2015
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One of the most original, unsettling and compelling books I have ever read. Brilliantly written.


Last Days
Last Days
Price: £3.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Scary and original, 21 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Last Days (Kindle Edition)
While I didn't quite take to the author's style, I loved the clever premise behind the story and the skillful ramping up of tension. The scary parts were brilliant.


The Gallows Curse
The Gallows Curse
Price: £5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Maitland does it again, 21 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Gallows Curse (Kindle Edition)
Another deliciously dark and page-turning read from Karen Maitland. The end has you gasping!


The Quick
The Quick
Price: £3.77

3.0 out of 5 stars The climactic scenes had already taken place but it continued to meander on for years in a pretty pointless way, 21 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Quick (Kindle Edition)
3.5 stars - I've been trying to decide whether to give it 3 or 4 so I'll go half way! This was a well written book that kept me turning the pages. The author switches effortlessly between Victorian drama and horror, somehow stitching them together in an almost seemless way. There was a huge cast of characters to keep up with but most were memorable and sympathetic. Where the book really fell down for me was the last 15 percent or so (I read it on a Kindle). The climactic scenes had already taken place but it continued to meander on for years in a pretty pointless way, culminating in a predictable ending. Still, I would certainly read more by this author


Spunk Fakers, Slap Bangs and Tipping the Velvet
Spunk Fakers, Slap Bangs and Tipping the Velvet
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Useful for me, 21 Jun. 2015
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Useful for me, as I am writing Victorian-set fiction, but probably not of great interest if you are not already fascinated by the period.


A Grim Almanac of Georgian London (Grim Almanacs)
A Grim Almanac of Georgian London (Grim Almanacs)
Price: £2.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Grizzly but gripping, 21 Jun. 2015
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Fascinating and disturbing - often fact is stranger than fiction


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