Monthly Archives January 2023

#BookReview ‘The Ivy Tree’ by Mary Stewart #mystery

A strange encounter on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland kicks off this mystery of assumed identity and deceit. The premise of The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart reminded me immediately of Josephine Tey’s masterpiece about a fraudulent heir, Brat Farrar and Stewart’s characters refer to the Tey book. Days after a young man mistakes Mary Grey for a local woman who disappeared eight years earlier, Mary sees a strange woman watching her in the Newcastle café where she is waitressing. What follows is a complex plot to secure the fortune and property of an elderly gentleman, his health failing, before he should die. Mary, at the behest of sibling partnership Connor Winslow and Lisa Dermott, will impersonate Annabel Winslow, the woman she so resembles, in order to win the Winslow’s farm Whitescar for Con. Unscrupulous, immoral? Or redressing a wrong perpetuated in a will which needs updating before Matthew Winslow’s imminent death? Throughout the first half of the story, which works up to the false Annabel’s arrival at Whitescar and the hurdles of lies and pretence she must negotiate, I suspected Mary Grey of being the real Annabel. But at the halfway mark in the story, everything changes as new information
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘My Name is Yip’ by Paddy Crewe #historical

Through the course of his story, Yip Tolroy founds out who he is and who he isn’t. My Name is Yip by Paddy Crewe is a historical novel with a difference, a first person narrative about an extraordinary, ordinary, boy and what he learns about friendship. Yip is 4 ft 8 in tall and unable to speak. His father disappeared on the night of Yip’s birth and so he and his mother muddle along together. He is assumed by everyone who lives in Heron’s Creek to be slow, with no understanding of what is going on around him. But the opposite is true. Yip watches and learns. He is a great observer. He is fifteen when old gentleman Shelby Stubbs recognises Yip’s intelligence, teaches him to read and write and presents him with a portable slate and chalk which Yip uses to communicate. A new world opens up before him but he must find the courage to take the first step. The voice at first seemed awkward, but by the third or fourth page I knew this was Yip’s own voice and the awkwardness disappeared. Yip has a clear sense of right and wrong, of kindness and cruelty. As a
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘City of Masks’ by @SD_Sykes #historical

It is 1358 and Lord Somershill, Oswald de Lacy, is in Venice with his mother on route to the Holy Land. But Venice is at war with Hungary and the pair are stranded in this city of secrets. City of Masks, third in the Oswald de Lacy medieval mystery series by SD Sykes, sees the young lord investigating the death of a friend. Venice is a wonderful setting for Oswald’s detecting. A closed city with its own rules, customs, prejudices and culture, it is a minefield for a stranger seeking information. Oswald relies on acquaintances and new friends for help. But all is not as it seems. Not all deceivers wear a traditional grotesque Venetian mask, some are in full sight. Oswald’s mother continues to be an irritant to him but is full of surprises and there is tension in the house of their hosts, John Bearpark and his young wife, who is due to give birth. As Oswald’s investigations progress, so do strange happenings at the Bearpark house. Plus, Oswald has the feeling he is being followed everywhere he goes. Even to the dangerous military complex, the Arsenale, to the island of lepers and to the gambling dens where
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘London Rules’ by Mick Herron #spy #thriller

‘Cover your arse’ is the first rule to live by for Jackson Lamb’s team of spies in London Rules, fifth in the Slough House thriller series by Mick Herron. Life in Britain is going to the dogs. A troublesome Brexiteer MP is being loud-mouthed again. Number two spy at Regent’s Park HQ, ‘Lady Di’ Taverner, has a new boss. And there’s an unprovoked gun attack by men in jeeps on a small village in Derbyshire. Lamb’s team of reject spies is adjusting to life after a recent attack on the premises. Shirley Dander is counting down the days to her last anger management session while trying to resist the packet of cocaine in her pocket; River Cartwright visits his grandfather, the ‘OB,’ now suffering from dementia; and Louisa Guy distracts herself from grief with a shoe obsession. Contrary to some descriptions, this is not a series about one man but about a team of colleagues. Each is flawed, and compelling. When IT guy Roddy Ho is attacked in the street in broad daylight, the action can’t be ignored. The Slough House desk-bound spies leap into action. Their long-ago training lends them a basic knowledge of tradecraft which is useful, but
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Thornyhold’ by Mary Stewart #romance #mystery

Browsing at the library I came upon a Mary Stewart novel I hadn’t heard of. Thornyhold. Of course, I couldn’t resist picking it up and putting it on top of my To-Read pile. It’s a small novel, only 212 pages and I read it in two sittings. Published in 1988, Thornyhold is one of Stewart’s last – her first was Madam, Will You Talk? in 1955 – and this is very different from the romantic suspense stories for which she is known and loved. Gilly Ramsey inherits Thornyhold, a remote cottage, from her mysterious godmother Geillis. Now alone after the recent death of her father, Gilly plans to start a new life at Thornyhold. As she explores the cottage – its mysterious attic which doubles as a pigeon loft, a still room for drying herbs and making herbal cures – she learns more about her benefactor. There are more questions than answers. As a child, Gilly had always found Geillis enigmatic; she appeared when Gilly seemed to need her, one time producing a crystal ball from her bag. Now, as she meets her new neighbours, Gilly learns the history of the house and her godmother’s reputation as a herbal healer.
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Categories: Book Love.