Interesting, informative, and sometimes insulting.
I am somewhat torn about this book. There were some things to love about it and some things to hate as well.
Being someone who is intrigued by the spiritual and historical and having read/enjoyed some of Leanna’s fiction work, the premise and authors of this book intrigued me and led me to want to read it.
Quite a number of the ghost tales were known to me—in fact, one of them was very well known as I spent a semester at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama in high school in a program called Step Ahead where incoming high school seniors could take two classes (for credit) in the summer. I was pleased that one of the first tales told in this book was about the red lady from there. That summer I lived on campus, we used to walk down to the dorm (Pratt Hall) where the poor girl supposedly died and talk about how tragic that was. A few times, it seemed there was a face at one of the windows on the top floor. Perhaps a flight of fancy since we were told the room had been boarded up. Nevertheless, it was nice to see the story in this book.
Clearly, the authors did a wonderful job fully researching the various stories they chose to share. The way the tales were sorted into categories made sense and the organization was well done. The book had a nice flow to it and a good variety of stories.
Some of the prose was a bit too woke and strident for me. There were also some places that it seemed as if the authors were lecturing or looking down on the reader. It was odd to me for them to basically attempt to shame the very demographic of people who would be attracted to reading the subject matter of this book. It was also strange since one of the authors owns a ghost tour company and the other one leads ghost tours. If you make your living from the industry, how can you legitimately look down on your customers? Seems a bit cynical to me. I almost stopped reading a couple of times because of this, but eventually picked it up again as the actual ghost stories and histories of the places were intriguing.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. I recommend the book for the stories and thorough historical research. Just skim over the parts where the writers’ judgment of the reader is problematic. I’m giving this one 3.5 stars for the historical detail and quality of the tales.
I received a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. September 27, 2022 release date.
I picked this one up when Barnes and Noble had their hardbacks 50 percent off. I liked the cover and the blurb sounded good. Of course, I’d heard of the island of Mustique and how it was made into a place for celebrities to build homes and find peace and quiet, so the idea of a murder mystery set there was intriguing.
As I started reading, I realized why the author’s name sounded familiar. She was the wife of the man who bought the island in real life and gifted Princess Margaret with the land to build her own escape home. The author started the story by having the fictional narrator explaining she was a former lady in waiting for the princess and that her husband bought the island in the 1950s. I don’t want to say this was a Mary Sue type story, but it skirted the edge—except the heroine was seventy years old rather than a young girl.
This was a novel, but there was a whole lot of truth in it—not the murder mystery part nor the person who committed the crime (I hope- LOL) but a lot of the history of the island and of the author herself. I did enjoy the story—even the totally unrealistic parts. The author did a good job with the red herrings and the culprit, so I can forgive her for the use of herself—perhaps an idealized version—as the heroine of the story. It was kind of refreshing to have an older woman in good physical shape as a strong protagonist even though I couldn’t get it out of my head that she was a real person.
One of the parts of the book that resonated with me near the end was this comment by the heroine: “My own grief is harder to define. Why do I care so much about losing something that never really existed? The space left behind will fill, as time passes.”
That passage reminded me of when I finally realized that someone who I’d considered a friend was actually a malignant narcissist and then, for my own protection, I cut off contact with the person. I grieved over the loss of that relationship for a long time and almost got sucked back in again—until I came to that same realization. None of my memories of that person were based on real feelings on the part of my “friend” and our relationship never really existed. It was all an act on that “friend’s” part even though I invested myself in our friendship.
It makes me wonder if this author also had a real life experience with such a narcissist. It sure seemed to me like that was one more of the truths she expressed in this fictional tale. Until you’ve actually been a victim of a malignant narcissist, it’s hard to understand just how awful they can be. Her passage above rang true.
Overall, the book was good and I enjoyed the tale.
I went to a wedding a week ago in Tallahassee and, on my drive back, stopped at a couple of Goodwill Stores as they always seem to have a good selection of used books. One of the ones I purchased was The Family Upstairs. I hadn’t read any of this author before, but I’m a fan now. The book was intriguing as well as a quick read. A house with dark secrets is at the center of the tale.
The story is told from three points of view and I enjoyed all of them. Each had a distinctive voice and were compelling in different ways. The movement from each voice to the other was smooth and kept me turning pages.
In the author note, she stated her inspiration for the book came from seeing a woman in Nice, France sneaking her children into the public baths near the beach. From that, a tale of family terror, loss, and lives shattered was born. I loved how all the threads of the story came together. I figured out most of it, but a surprise or two in the pages made this reader happy as I usually solve it all before the end.
Each of the three protagonists were dramatically affected by their upbringings and the way the author showed how those experiences carried over into their adult lives was genius. It’s a dark tale, but moments of light and love shine through. I throughly recommend this one for a few hours of entertainment mixed with a little anxiety for the characters.
This story set in the 1790s was intriguing and a solid read. The heroine (a widow) becomes a companion to a dowager marchioness when her nephews she was helping raise left for school. Her brother wanted her to stay on with him and his wife but the heroine wanted an adventure and the job was temporary as the dowager marchioness’ regular companion was recovering from a broken leg.
Our heroine definitely got her adventure. Pretty soon after she arrived at the home of the dowager, the current marchioness was found dead in her bed—strangled. And the kicker? The lady had been heard to be arguing loudly, in the middle of the night, with her husband, the marquis. The marquis ordered his carriage and horses shortly after the argument was heard and that morning when the body is discovered, he’s nowhere to be found. Maybe he absconded to France where he has a second home? Or did he run elsewhere after killing his wife?
The heroine, a sharp lady with a keen mind, sets herself the task of finding the murderer—she doesn’t know the marquis but with the family in disarray over their fears for his life if he’s found and convicted of his wife’s death—to say nothing of the scandal—she feels she needs to pitch in and assist the marquis’s younger brother in the task of clearing the marquis’s name.
The dowager is a plucky lady too and won’t tolerate anyone treating her as if she’s elderly and incapable of being in on the unmasking of the villain. She plays a big role in the book and I liked that she wasn’t shunted aside.
As the investigation ensues, the reader is caught up in the clues with the three main characters. I confess, I figured out who did it early on, but still enjoyed the story and how the author tied up all the parts and loose ends. A bit of romance thrown in as well made this an enjoyable read.
The blurb for this story set me up for a certain kind of story and, surprisingly, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there were twists and turns and some surprises, and it definitely held my attention despite not leading me where I thought it would. The beginning was not like a traditional thriller. It was a slow start that built through the first almost ¾ of the book. I liked it a lot and being surprised by a few things made it even more enjoyable. It didn’t take me long to read it, because it moved fast and held my interest.
There were a couple of places where I thought the protagonist, Tess, was a little naïve and slow on the uptake, but it served the plot, so I can get past that. She wasn’t one of those heroines that make the reader want to slap some sense into her and the naivety was somewhat understandable.
The minor characters like Tess’s brother and husband were well-drawn with good back stories and motivations for their actions. Her husband, Josh, was a bit OCD, but that showed the author put a lot of thought into how he would act as well as react to Tess. I did get a bit peeved at Josh a few times, but to me, that’s a sign of a good story since it means I am relating to the characters.
I have a friend who lost her child in similar circumstances to how Tess and Josh lost Lily and so much of how these characters dealt with their grief was familiar to me from what my friend and her husband went through, the scenes dealing with the sadness, loss and lack of communication really resonated with me. Well done to the author for being able to realistically write about such horrific loss as well as making the story suspenseful.
This one is a 4.5 star read for me. A hard subject handled skillfully.
I love James Grippando and his Jack Swytek series of novels. If you haven’t read any of these, you’re really missing out. The latest installment, Blood Money, is clearly inspired by the Casey Anthony trial. There are too many similarities to miss. This is clearly a fiction tale and it’s cool how he used this trial to build a thrilling story around some of the facts. I love how Mr. Grippando even made a word play on the horrific Nancy Grace by naming his media shark Faith Corso. That cracked me up. First of all, because the character was clearly based on that odious woman and the last name of Corso made me think of coarse which she is. (Remember, all this is my opinion only-if you like this woman, that’s your prerogative. I don’t).
This book is a fast read and very exciting. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I won’t say much about the plot but this one is packed with lots of angles and turns. I was a little disappointed in a couple of things that never seemed to get resolved and I would’ve liked to know the answers to those questions. It was nothing that took away from the final solution to the whodunit but there were threads left hanging that didn’t please me. There was also the matter of something that niggled at me about Swyteck’s client, Sydney. She acted in a way that didn’t make sense to me. After learning what kind of person she was, I had a hard time reconciling her willingness to do a certain thing with what we learn about her on the journey, but all in all, this was a fun read with enough twists and turns to satisfy the toughest critic.
The story has Mr. Grippando’s usual wit with his main protagonist, Jack and his best friend, Theo. These two characters are larger than life and I adore how they play off each other and the way the zingers keep coming even when they are inthe midst of trouble. I recommend this one. Highly.
I read this one this past weekend and it was an okay read. I liked some of the characters and the setting. It’s the second book in a series and I was disappointed that the author gave away the whole plot (and most importantly, who dun it) of the first book in this second book. I hate when that happens. I know I am not the only person that may have picked up book two first. I like a series and sometimes when I pick them up out of order, I’ll go back and buy the prior ones. That won’t happen this time. I already know who was accused falsely and who actually was the murderer. So, what’s the point? The author could have very well made her references to the prior book a little less overt.
I like to read mysteries to try to match wits against the writer and the protagonist. I had this one figured out by Chapter six. Even had figured out the red herring. But remember, I could solve an Agatha Christie book as a middle schooler in 28 pages. So, it’s hard to trick me. LOL!
If you read these, read them in order as you’ll be disappointed that you can’t go back and read the first one.
Last night, I finished reading Stolen Treasures by Laurie Ryan. It’s a story about modern day piracy on the high seas. The heroine is involved with a yacht club that has organized a festival of ships. After being conked in the head, she accidently ends up out to sea on a ship called the Treasure. The hero is a marine law enforcement officer investigating the theft of a number of boats/yachts in the Pacific Ocean south of San Diego. The boat the heroine is stuck on happens to belong to the hero.
The heroine initially seemed to have a major anger issue. She throws things whenever she gets mad. It made for a pretty volatile first part of the book. She eventually settled down and got hold of herself. This book deals with sailing, romance, heat, the doldrums, a big storm and betrayal as well as a very satisfying ending where both the hero and heroine find a purpose for their lives.
There is a sequel to this book called Pirate’s Promise. I already have it downloaded to my Kindle app on my I-Pod and plan to read it soon. The first one was a quick read and very nicely done.