Blog Tour: The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi @MaliaZaidi @damppebbles

The Golden Hour cover.jpg

London, 1927… Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbour has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own. With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes aga

My review:

Hear me out for a minute here: what if Lady Evelyn Carlisle is actually a serial killer? Think about it: everywhere she goes, there’s a murder: Greece, Oxford, Scotland… And she always helps bring the killer to justice… It’s the perfect plan! This was also my theory for Murder She Wrote 😉

Jokes aside, THE GOLDEN HOUR is the fourth installment in the Lady Evelyn historical mystery series set in the 1920s. This time, our amateur detective travels to Scotland to visit her family for her cousin’s imminent wedding. Well, she and her aunt Agnes actually travel several weeks before the wedding because Evelyn’s cousin, Gemma, asks them to come help her and calm the matriarch, who seems quite agitated and nervous. Soon after they arrive to Malmo Manor, there’s a murder that reminds the villagers of an old mystery that was never solved…

Lady Evelyn Carlisle starts investigating the murder with the help of some unlikely allies. I really like that she’s no expert detective, she’s just a smart woman who’s curious and brave and willing to help others. What I enjoyed the most about this book was Evelyn’s relationship with her aunt, which is complex and interesting, and something which is not usually explored. I also love Daniel, although he was more of a secondary character in this book.

Lady Evelyn mysteries are historical mysteries with a focus on the everyday moments and personal relationships between the characters. Because of the dialogue-heavy nature of these novels, the rich atmosphere and the era they’re set, they remind me of Poirot’s books, although the main character is quite different, I can assure you.

This is a slow-paced cozy historical mystery with a lovely Scottish atmosphere and not one but two interesting mysteries to solve. I admit I guessed the identity of Tilly’s killer, but both crime motives were a total shock for me and, to be honest, quite controversial, which I always enjoy.

About Malia Zaidi

IMG_3210.jpg

Malia Zaidi is the author of the Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaliaZaidi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/maliazaidiauthor/about/?tab=page_info

Website: https://www.maliazaidi.com/

Blog: https://www.princessandpen.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14197546.Malia_Zaidi

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK & Amazon US

 The Golden Hour Blog Tour.png

dpbt 2.jpg

 

Review: Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulencak @DurangoWriter

40396120.jpg

On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberately shoots her father in the back. To their Mississippi community, the death of well-regarded attorney Richard Pickering is a fascinating scandal. To Cissy’s distraught mother, Caroline, it’s an unforgivable crime. But in Cissy’s troubled mind, killing her father was the only way she knew to save the two people she loves most in the world. For years, Cissy has endured a devil’s bargain with her father, hoping that he would leave her younger sisters alone if she kept his abuse to herself. When that thin trust shattered, she saw no other choice. Janelle Clayton, the family’s matriarch, has kept her distance from her daughter, Caroline–a fact she now regrets–yet she hopes to do right by her granddaughter. Cissy has always been an unusual girl, given to compulsive counting and list-making, but Janelle believes her implicitly. When Cissy is remanded to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital, a caring psychiatrist tries to help, yet new revelations drive Cissy to retreat even further from reality. It will fall to Janelle, despite her own failing health, to become Cissy’s advocate and rescuer. And over the course of an unlikely road trip, Janelle and Cissy will confront the truths they’ve hidden from the world and themselves, finding courage, deep-rooted resilience, and a bond tender and tough enough to transform them both.

 

My review:

I read Mandy Mikulencak’s previous novel last year: The Last Suppers and I really enjoyed it. It was a very original novel and I’m glad to say that her new book FORGIVENESS ROAD was also quite unique and I loved it even more. This was a moving, beautiful and delicate book that I would recommend to fans of historical and southern fiction.

The book starts with a bang… literally. When shy and fragile Cissy kills is father, everyone is shocked and can’t understand why this has happened. Soon enough, Cissy begins telling the truth and my heart broke when I realized not everyone believed her. Cissy is then sent to a psychiatric hospital and her life will never be the same.

I don’t want to dive too much into the plot, but let me assure you that this book was a wonderful adventure. It’s sad, beautiful, emotional and, in the end, hopeful. What I loved the most is, of course, the relationship between Cissy and her grandmother Janelle. Janelle was such a fascinating character, I thought their dynamics were unique and depite Janelle’s apparent coldness, she was such a caring person underneath.

This book deals with important themes and topics, some of which are not easy to read about. And although what happens to Cissy in this book is definitely something that we’ve read in other books, I love how Mandy offers a unique perspective and strengthens the relationship between a girl and her grandmother. The road trip part was my favorite and I never knew how the story would end.

In the end, there wasn’t a moment when I was reading FORGIVENESS ROAD when I didn’t feel like I was reading something truly special. This book touched me deeply and had me crying more than once. I know I won’t ever forget it.

Have you read any of Mandy Mikulencak books? Would you be interested in reading this one? 💙

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid @tjenkinsreid @HutchinsonBooks

40950983.jpg

They sold out arenas from coast to coast. Their music defined an era and every girl in America idolised Daisy. But on July 12 1979, on the night of the final concert of the Aurora tour, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. This is the whole story, right from the beginning: the sun-bleached streets, the grimy bars on the Sunset Strip, knowing Daisy’s moment was coming. Relive the euphoria of success and experience the terror that nothing will ever be as good again. Take the uppers so you can keep on believing, take the downers so you can sleep, eventually. Wonder who you are without the drugs or the music or the fans or the family that prop you up. Make decisions that will forever feel tough. Find beauty where you least expect it. Most of all, love like your life depends on it and believe in whatever it is you’re fighting for. It’s a true story, though everyone remembers the truth differently.

My review:

Last year, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo became one of my favorite books. Not of that year. Ever. I was super excited to read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new book DAISY JONES AND THE SIX. And I devoured like I was addicted to a drug, which is kind of fitting, now that I think about it. This one was a buddy read with lovely Steph (here’s her review) and we both LOVED it so much! It was a great book to discuss together 🤗

Disclaimer: I love 60s and 70s music. It’s my favorite musical era and I love many bands from those years. When I found out DAISY JONES was about a music band, I was super excited. I had a feeling I would love it as much as Evelyn. And I did. I still can’t decide which one I love better. But if there’s one thing that I’m sure about is that DAISY JONES AND THE SIX will be among my favorite books of 2019.

I don’t really want to say too much because I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for anyone, but this is quite a unique book. The structure is strange: there are not chapters and everything is told in interview-biography format. I think that’s what made it so compulsively readable. It was such a delightful book, so easy to read and it was also so easy to become immersed in Daisy and Billy’s story.

I know I’ve said other times how much I love stories spanning many years. And this, like Evelyn Hugo, was one of those. You get to see the characters grow and evolve and you are witness to their relationships growing as well. I’m not a fan of romance books (loved chick-lit when I was younger, but never romantic dramas) and I usually find it annoying when an author tries to pair up the main characters when it’s not necessary at all. BUT let me say this: I love how Taylor Jenkins Reid writes love stories.

Without entering into much detail, I have never been a fan of love triangles. But when they’re written in such an honest, realistic and beautiful way like this one was… well, I WAS DYING to know what would happen. And, most importantly, I could feel for every character, as there were no villains in this story.

A wonderful, unique and epic story that I’m still thinking about today.

Do you enjoy Taylor Jenkins Reid books? Who was your favorite character? Mine was Camilla and I was totally rooting for them 💙 Don’t miss the Spotify soundtrack!

Review: The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart

51lToF1qcBL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

For twelve-year-old Martha “Sonny” Creech, there is no place more beautiful than her family’s cotton farm. She, her two brothers, and her parents work hard on their land—hoeing, planting, picking—but only Sonny loves the rich, dark earth the way her father does. When a tragic accident claims his life, her stricken family struggles to fend off ruin—until their rich, reclusive neighbor offers to help finance that year’s cotton crop. Sonny is dismayed when her mama accepts Frank Fowler’s offer; even more so when Sonny’s best friend, Daniel, points out that the man has ulterior motives. Sonny has a talent for divining water—an ability she shared with her father and earns her the hated nickname “water witch” in school. But uncanny as that skill may be, it won’t be enough to offset Mr. Fowler’s disturbing influence in her world. Even her bond with Daniel begins to collapse under the weight of Mr. Fowler’s bigoted taunts. Though she tries to bury her misgivings for the sake of her mama’s happiness, Sonny doesn’t need a willow branch to divine that a reckoning is coming, bringing with it heartache, violence—and perhaps, a fitting and surprising measure of justice.

My review:

As I said in my My Most Anticipated Books post, Donna Everhart books are always a priority. I requested this one as soon as I saw it on Netgalley, because her other two books had been favorites of mine. And while THE FORGIVING KIND was a different experience for me, I still believe Donna Everhart is a wonderful writer and this is a great and important book.

While I loved reading the first chapter and getting to know Sonny and her father, I admit I lost some interest when he died and the family had to continue with the business. I found the first half of the book rather slow, but I kept on going because I knew it wouldn’t disappoint me. And I’m so glad I did! This is a touching story about a family, about grief, love, racism, and friendship. And the importance of loyalty and never losng hope.

From one particular event on, I found this book unputdownable, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. This is not a thriller or a fast-paced aventure, but I was so consumed by the story that I needed to know what would happen next. My favorite storyline was the one involving Sonny’s friend, Daniel. There were some scenes that broke my heart and the ending almost made me cry… it’s not a happy story, but it remains hopeful.

This is a book that talks about many important themes and even though it’s set in the 50s, it’s still relevant today. Also, I have never heard of divining water (I’m sorry!), and I found it fascinating. I believe that, like all three books by Everhart, this novel would translate beautifully to the big screen (picture something like The Secret Life of Bees).

Have you read any of Donna Everhart books? 💙

Mini Reviews: November Road & Two Can Keep A Secret

my most

It’s been ages since I’ve published a mini reviews post, so I guess it’s high time. I finally decided on reviewing two novels that have literally nothing in common, but I don’t think you will mind… (?) The two books featured on this post are a YA mystery and a historical fiction “romance”. But not quite. One I found entertaining yet predictable, the other was a quiet and delightful story.

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

38225791.jpgI decided to read this book because it was the first book in the ScaredSuspenseBookClub and I kinda wanted to read something light yet  suspenseful. I thought this would perfect for that and I wasn’t wrong. Reading this book was like watching an episode of Pretty Little Liars or Riverdale and while I’m not always in the mood for those kind of shows, YA mysteries are consistently entertaining. However, from what I’ve seen, they’re not really shocking or surprising or maybe I’m just not reading the right ones. I admit I haven’t still read ONE OF US IS LYING, but I might in the future. TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET was super entertaining and I devoured it in practically a day, but it was nothing more than a fun and entertaining mystery that doesn’t really stand out among other similar books. While the twists were predictable if you’ve read other thrillers, I loved Ellery and Malcolm and the double point of view. I wish Ezra hadn’t been such a secondary character, though. I liked him. PS: I hate this cover.

November Road by Lou Berney

35430011

I read THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE about five years ago and I really liked it. Two of my favorite bloggers (Renee & Steph) raved about his new novel, so of course I decided to read NOVEMBER ROAD, a book about the improbable relationship between a mobster and a bored housewife. First of all, I want to say that the cover is strikingly beautiful and I wish I had bought the physical edition instead. This is a weird book, in the sense that I don’t really know how to define it. It’s historical fiction, yes, because it’s set in the 60s, and I guess it’s also a romance, but not the cheesy and melodramatic kind. I guess NOVEMBER ROAD falls also in the literary fiction category, which is one that I admit I don’t usually read. Nevertheless, this was a quiet and beautiful novel whose characters were complex and interesting to read about. In addition, I found this book even more enjoyable because this next April I’m planning a road trip across the south and Frank and Charlotte visit some of the places that I’m dying to see. So much fun!

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of them? 💙