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Book Review: To the Lake by Yana Vagner

To the Lake by Yana Vagner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Skyscraper Publications

Summary:   When a virulent flu epidemic sweeps through Moscow killing hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, Anya and her husband Sergey decide to flee to a lake in the far north of Russia where they hope to sit out the epidemic. But as the wave of infection expands from the capital, they encounter obstacles, hazards, and aggression, with near escapes from death as they try to navigate their way through a harsh Russian winter, with diminishing supplies of petrol and food. And their troubles multiply as Sergey agrees to takes on unwelcome guests and Anna struggles with her own feelings of hostility and jealousy.

Book Review: Ladle to the Grave (Soup Lover's Mystery #4) by Connie Archer

Ladle to the Grave by Connie Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Berkley

Summary:  By the Spoonful is Snowflake, Vermont’s most popular soup shop, but owner Lucky Jamieson doesn’t have any time to enjoy her success—she’s too busy trying to keep a lid on false accusations against her loved ones… 

It’s almost May, and some of the local ladies have organized a pagan celebration in the woods to welcome spring. But the evening goes terribly wrong when one of the attendees winds up dead, apparently poisoned by an herbal concoction prepared by Lucky’s grandfather, Jack.

Lucky’s sure her grandfather could not have made such a tragic mistake. But before she can clear him of suspicion, her best friend, Sophie, is diverted from planning her wedding to By the Spoonful chef Sage DuBois when she finds a dead man floating in the creek on her property. Now it’s up to Lucky to get both Sophie and Jack out of hot water before a killer stirs up more trouble…

Book Review: The Party by Elizabeth Day

The Party by Elizabeth Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Summary:  Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben's wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben's dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she'll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated. 

Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny (Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

Still Life by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Minotaur Books

Summary:   Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces--and this series--with power, ingenuity, and charm.

Book Review: A Roux of Revenge (Soup Lover's Mystery #3) by Connie Archer

A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Penguin Random House/Berkley Prime Crime

Summary:   Snowflake, Vermont, is known for its skiing in winter—and its soup all year round, thanks to Lucky Jamieson’s By the Spoonful Soup Shop. Autumn brings golden leaves, pumpkin rice soup, the annual Harvest Festival… and murder.
 
Lucky’s soup shop is busier than usual this October, with groups of itinerant travelers in town to work the Harvest Festival. One newcomer seems to take a particular interest in Lucky’s young waitress, Janie, spying on her from across the street. Is the stranger stalking Janie?
 

Book Review: Shadows on the Lake: A Stefania Valenti Mystery by Giovanni Cocco

Shadows on the Lake: A Stefania Valenti Mystery by Giovanni Cocco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Penguin Books

Summary:   A new atmospheric Italian mystery novel set in Lake Como, introducing the clever and captivating Inspector Stefania Valenti 

During the construction of a new road to the Swiss border in the mountains above Lake Como, the remains of a young man are unearthed on the powerful Cappelletti family's property. On the case is Stefania Valenti, forty-five, divorced with a young daughter, and a brilliant, determined police inspector. 
Her investigation takes her back to World War II and deep into the history of the region, a place that during the war attracted smugglers, deserters, secret agents, and fleeing Jews. Steeped in the beautiful atmosphere of Northern Italy, Valenti's investigation brings to light a family's secret, a tragic romance, and reveals a fascinating piece of Italian history.

Book Review: The Massacre of Mankind: Authorised Sequel to The War of the Worlds by Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind: Authorised Sequel to The War of the Worlds by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Gollancz

Summary:   It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.
So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells' book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.
He is right.

Book Review: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Penguin

Summary:   Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.

When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their 'for ever' home, they believe their dreams have come true.

Yet the boxes aren't even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.

What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy's attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?

As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk.

Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power by Naomi Alderman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Viking

Summary:  In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
 


Book Review: A Broth of Betrayal (Soup Lover's Mystery #2) by Connie Archer

A Broth of Betrayal by Connie Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Berkley

Summary:  Even a town called Snowflake, Vermont, has a summer season. In August, Lucky Jamieson’s By the Spoonful serves chilled soups—celery and green onion, cream of asparagus—and salads. The shop also serves as a gathering place to talk about cold-blooded murder… 

A protest to stop the construction of an ugly car wash in the middle of the town’s picturesque Village Green is interrupted by the discovery of a skeleton that may date back to the Revolutionary War. While the remains pose a historical mystery, a present-day murder shakes the town to its core when local auto mechanic Harry Hodges is found dead in his shop.