The LOST ORPHAN by Stacey Halls

The Lost Orphan

1754 London. Not the most pleasant time in history. And not a time kind to women. Poor Bess Bright works all day hawking shrimp to make barely enough to scrape by.

When she has a random encounter with a young man that leaves her pregnant, her only option is to give up her daughter. Leaving her at the Foundling Hospital is gut-wrenching for her. But Bess isn’t one of those mothers who won’t come back. She fully intends to come for her daughter as soon as she can. Leaving a token of half a whalebone heart her child’s father gave her, as an identifier.

Six years later and Bess goes back for her daughter only to be told that her daughter was picked up the day after arriving by a woman with the correct identifier. Distraught and confused she is determined to find her child.

I enjoyed the writing in this tale. The atmosphere was easily imagined and while it was horribly sad, it was also full of courage and the relationship between a mother and her child.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ April 7th, 2020 by MIRA

 

 

 

 

Murder at Enderley Hall by Helena Dixon

Murder at Enderley Hall (A Miss Underhay Mystery #2)

A Miss Underhay Mystery #2

It’s the summer of 1933 and Kitty Underhay is still reeling from all of the things that happened at The Dolphin. Where her long-absent and a very criminal father has come and gone in a cloud of suspicion.

But the one good thing to come out of it all is finding out she has family! Hoping it may bring her more information on her mother, who went missing in 1916, Kitty happily accepts her cousin’s request to come to Enderley Hall and stay a bit. Get to know the aunt and uncle and maybe have a bit of fun.

Kitty and her maid, Alice, feel something is off the minute they enter the home. Everyone is twitchy and no one seems to know anything about her mother or the visit she paid them just before she disappeared.  Nanny Thoms remembers though and she gives Kitty just a snippet here and there before she is found at the bottom of the kitchen stairs.

Important papers are missing, people are being murdered and thank goodness Matt arrives to help investigate what is going on.

This is the second in the series and I enjoyed it just as much! Matt and Kitty are such strong characters and I can’t wait for more of their adventures!

NetGalley/ March 19th, 2020 by Bookoture

 

 

 

 

 

SIN EATER by MEGAN CAMPISI

Sin Eater

The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.

In 16th Century England, 14-year-old May Owens, an orphan, has been condemned to a life sentence for stealing bread. It could have been worse. Her punishment is to be a Sin-Eater. Apprenticed to the old Sin-Eater. She can’t speak and none should speak to her except the dying. It is she who will sit and hear all of their sins and take them into herself by eating the food that represents each sin.

She is treated brutally and marked with a collar around her neck and an S tattooed on her tongue. She has very little learning except for the letters in her name. And she can barely understand the old woman who is teaching her.

Called to the castle, they enter to hear the sins of a dying woman. A governess at court. When they return to eat the food, there is a deer heart on the coffin. But May nor the old woman heard her confess to murder. When the old woman refused to eat it, she is killed and May is left on her own.

As more women die in the castle, May thinks she may have figured out why. And along the way figured out who she really is. Now she just needs to figure out who! Before she is the next to die.

This was in no way what the blurb said. The Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland.  I think that is a disservice to the book. This was a dark, gritty tale full of mystery and legend with characters both tragic and humorous. May Owens may have been born to be much more than her life became, and her strength and determination was that of a warrior.

Most of the book was hauntingly sad but this was the 16th Century. The one definitely made a mark on my heart.

NetGalley/ April 7th, 2020 by Atria Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Woman in the Mirror: A Novel by Rebecca James

The Woman in the Mirror: A Novel

They wanted her land. She didn’t want to give it. He made her fall in love with him. And then he labeled her a witch. She can hear the horses coming. She knows he has betrayed her. But if she is to die, it will be on her own terms and heaven help Ivan de Grey’s family and the cursed land where he will build his enormous Gothic home, Winterbourne Hall. On the bluff overlooking the sea, where once a woman had lived, loved and died.

And so it stood in Cornwall in isolation, looking gloomy and slightly scary.

In 1947, Alice Miller is living in London but can’t wait to get away. Memories of horrible things haunt her. When she sees the advert about a governess position at Winterbourne, she jumps at the chance. Her job will be to care for Captain Jonothan de Grey’s children. Twins, a boy and a girl, 8 years old and motherless.

Alice falls in love with the children as well as their father. The children seem to adore her but when they start behaving alarmingly like little demons and turn on her she is suspicious. The house seems to be cursed. When her one night with her boss leaves her pregnant and half-crazed, Jonothan tells her they are going to Paris. He drops her off with the nuns and hopes she will be safe there.

In the present day, Rachel Wright, just opening her gallery has also just received a letter for solicitors that her Aunt Constance has died and left Winterbourne and everything to her, her niece. Rachel is stunned. She was adopted as an infant and has been searching for her mother for a long time. She sees this as a chance to find out what happened to her mother and who was her father?

The answers she finds are alarming and sad. The house itself is dark and foreboding and you just know there is a dead body or two waiting to be found!

There are multiple timelines here. And we hear Alice’s and Rachel’s and someone or something else. Something malicious that wants them all to die.

Rachel gets answers and decides to stay in Winterbourne. After all, they have destroyed the mirror and the house does seem lighter, but you can bet this isn’t the end!

The timelines were a bit much but looking back, it was the only way the story could be told. And Oh what a story it is!

A good old fashioned ghost story! Witches, Curses, Women driven mad, Scary Children, I would say this one had it all!

NetGalley/March 17th, 2020 by Minotaur Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BORGIA CONFESSIONS by ALYSSA PALOMBO

The Borgia Confessions

‘Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love.” – Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

 

This is my favorite type of historical fiction. The players are real and the facts are real. Palombo has taken the players and the facts and woven them together with what could have happened and created a book I couldn’t put down.
Rome, in 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has been named Pope Alexander. Never mind how he got the job when he had multiple illegitimate children and a mistress living next door. The Borgia family was known for being greedy, ambitious to a fault, and eliminating the competition as this mockery of a pope is intent on one thing. Making sure his children, as well as himself, are all-powerful and wealthy is the goal.
There have been many attempts to explain the Borgias. And while Lucretia is in reality not such an awful person, she has been painted with an ugly brush as a lover of both her brother and her father. Although I nor the author saw any evidence of that.
There was not one redeeming character in this story. They were all equally easy to hate.
Even so, the writing was superb and the story, while not pretty, was fair and informative.
I loved it and would have no problem recommending it.
NetGalley/February 11th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin

THE ORPHAN’S DAUGHTER by SANDY TAYLOR *RELEASE DAY*

The Orphan's Daughter: A heartbreaking and absolutely unforgettable page turner set in Ireland by [Taylor, Sandy]

The setting is Ireland in 1924. Nora Doyle is a thirteen-year-old girl, living in a rural area where the struggle for survival is very real.

She and her family live in a small cottage that is cold and cramped. She wants to escape being poor, but she doesn’t let it stop her smile.

One day as she and her best friend, Kitty, are watching another funeral procession they notice the big house on the hill. Nora really wants to see the place where her mother worked at one time and has now forbidden Nora from ever going there but won’t say why.

When Kitty talks her into sneaking into the garden, the adventure begins. They find an opening and in they go. The garden is beautiful and they aren’t the only ones there. A boy named Edward is there. The three form a fast friendship that has Nora spending all the time she can in their secret garden. But Nora is sneaking around going against her mother’s wishes. And Edward is the key to a family secret that could change Nora’s life forever.

This one tugged on my heartstrings. The brutal hardships, the loss, and even the friendships.

Well Done! The author pulls us in and doesn’t let go. I like that.

NetGalley/ February 5th, 2020 by Bookouture

 

The ORPHAN’S DAUGHTER by Sandy Taylor

 

The Orphan's Daughter: A heartbreaking and absolutely unforgettable page turner set in Ireland by [Taylor, Sandy]

The setting is Ireland in 1924. Nora Doyle is a thirteen-year-old girl, living in a rural area where the struggle for survival is very real.

She and her family live in a small cottage that is cold and cramped. She wants to escape being poor, but she doesn’t let it stop her smile.

One day as she and her best friend, Kitty, are watching another funeral procession they notice the big house on the hill. Nora really wants to see the place where her mother worked at one time and has now forbidden Nora from ever going there but won’t say why.

When Kitty talks her into sneaking into the garden, the adventure begins. They find an opening and in they go. The garden is beautiful and they aren’t the only ones there. A boy named Edward is there. The three form a fast friendship that has Nora spending all the time she can in their secret garden. But Nora is sneaking around going against her mother’s wishes. And Edward is the key to a family secret that could change Nora’s life forever.

This one tugged on my heartstrings. The brutal hardships, the loss, and even the friendships.

Well Done! The author pulls us in and doesn’t let go. I like that.

NetGalley/ February 5th, 2020 by Bookouture