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review 2019-02-11 00:00
The Killing at Kaldaire House
The Killing at Kaldaire House - Kate P... The Killing at Kaldaire House - Kate Parker Dollycas’s Thoughts

Emily Gates learned to make fabulous hats as a girl from her Mum and she is now a top London milliner in London. Her hats are in demand by all the Society Ladies and she does enjoy running her shop with her uncle and her deaf brother. She is not happy when the ladies or their husbands fail to pay her for her work. She has learned a few tricks from the shadier side of her family and is not beyond burglarizing their homes and holding their prized possessions hostage until her bill is paid.

She has made some beautiful hats for Lady Kaldaire but Lord Kaldaire has not paid her. She knows there is a painting that hangs in his study that he holds very dear. She decides to sneak in late one night to abscond with the portrait but instead finds Lord Kildaire on the floor. When he moans she realizes he is still alive and she has to call for help. Unfortunately, his injuries were severe and he dies before naming his attacker. Emily gains the trust of Lady Kaldaire who vows to keep the break in a secret if Emily agrees to find the killer. That isn’t going to be easy especially with an inspector from Scotland on her tail with some demands of his own.

I am a big fan of Kate Parker. I have enjoyed both her Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and her Deadly Series, So I escaped right into this story and was taken back in time with Emily Gates. A commoner who is drawn into the world of Ladies and Lords, Princes and Princesses. To help Lady Kaldaire gets the answers she needs Emily finds herself rubbing elbows with the elite, riding in motorcars, and attending parties. Detective Inspector Russell knows her truth as well and thinks she may be working with her father and his family. The family he believes are responsible for many of the thefts on his docket.

Ms. Parker’s characters are quite dynamic. Very fleshed out with vivid detail. The clothing and especially the hats are thoroughly described as are the estates, Emily’s shop, home, and workshop, and the automobiles including the dusty roads they travel on. I could picture every place and person perfectly. Emily is a very strong independent woman, but she did bend to Lady Kaldaire’s elaborate schemes sometimes to her own peril. I enjoyed their interactions though very much. I also find Emily’s dedication to caring for her deaf brother heartwarming. Her main goal is to have enough money to send him to a special school and that is what drives her through the story.

The mystery is a bugger to solve. Emily finds herself going to her grandfather for help, something she has shunned before. She feels she is in danger of losing her business if she can’t put all the pieces together and find the killer all while trying to stay out of her family’s shenanigans. She literally travels far and wide to get answers.

As stated in the synopsis this story does have a My Fair Lady mashed with a little Mary Poppins with a dash of Sherlock Holmes feel. The author has great world building skills and has created very memorable characters. I found the story to be delightfully entertaining and a perfect escape.
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review 2016-04-17 05:53
The Conspiring Woman (Arcane Society #4)
The Conspiring Woman - Kate Parker

The first three books of this series were published by Berkeley and, I'm guessing, the contract was not renewed for the fourth (this book) and the author went the self-publishing route.  This made me nervous because my experience with self published books has not been overall positive.  But I wanted to see what happened between Georgia and the Duke of Blackford.


The good news is that this was a really professionally edited text with obvious care taken with proofreading.  The story was tight and ran smoothly.  The bad news is that the plotting itself was weak; not only was the killer obvious but Georgia never had a clue and nobody in their right mind could have missed at least considering the character as a suspect, something the Georgia failed to do and then acted poleaxed when someone suggested it.  I was left going "oh come ON!".  


But the author does wrap up all the character side-stories, I got to find out what happened between Blackford and Georgia and the overall series arc with the evil nemesis (meh) was all tied up with a bow.  It was a nice read and I'm thankful the author took the chance to self publish and give her readers a happy ending.



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text 2016-04-15 03:00
Book haul week of April 15
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home - Lucy Worsley
The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell
The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn
Lost Among the Living - Simone St. James
The Other Side of Midnight - Simone St. James
The Conspiring Woman - Kate Parker
Crime and Poetry - Amanda Flower
Basket Case - Nancy Haddock
Vanilla Beaned - Jenn McKinlay
Breach of Crust - Ellery Adams

After a quiet couple of weeks, the books started pouring in through the post.  I suspect based on shipping notices a few more might stumble in this afternoon, but so far this is what I've got.  In addition to the ones at the top, I also received Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening - Louise Riotte.  I spent yesterday afternoon flipping through it and reading most of it (it's setup to be largely a reference book).


If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home I bought based on Degrees of Affection's updates as she listened to the audio.  She never steers me wrong in non-fiction!


The Madwoman Upstairs:  I saw It's a Mad Mad World's review of this one and it just sounds like a must read for me.  Clues!  Books!  Yay!


The Semester of Our Discontent is the first in a Henery Press series that takes place on a school campus.  


Lost Among the Living and The Other Side of Midnight are two of the three works by Simone St. James that I haven't yet read (the third should arrive any day).  The first two are some of the best ghost stories I've ever read, and I have high hopes for these two.


The Conspiring Woman I don't know for sure, but I think this might be the last book in this series (unless the author plans going self-pub.  I suspect it was part of the Penguin/Random House culling.  It's a shame if so, the series was good, if not strong and I want to find out what happens to the MC.


Crime and Poetry and Basket Case are two first in new series.  I've stared Crime and Poetry last night and the opening gambit is ridiculous but I love the raven!  Vanilla Beaned and Breach of Crust are the latest in on-going series.


New books: 11

Books read: 5

Total physical TBR: 221


Hope everyone has a happy weekend!

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review 2015-07-17 03:05
The Royal Assassin (Victorian Bookshop Mystery, #3)
The Royal Assassin - Kate Parker

I'm on a serious historical fiction/mystery binge.  Apparently I have a temporary need to vicariously live in 19th century England; luckily I have quite a stack of books in my TBR pile that allow me to do just that.


The Royal Assassin is the third book in a series that would be better off called The Archivist Society mysteries, as almost nothing happens in the bookshop that Georgia Fenchurch owns.  Going a step further, the focus of the series is truly Georgia's interaction with the Duke of Blackford, the Archivist Society mostly being a convenient framework allowing the two to spend time together as equals, investigating crimes and threats against country and queen.


For all that, it still works as a great cozy historical mystery.  I enjoy Georgia and the Duke as well as most of the secondary characters (Sir whatshisname, the head of the Archivist Society, feels like a bit of a caricature), and I think the mysteries are interesting and entertaining.  The series story arc about Count Farkas and the death of her parents, however, leaves me ambivalent.


The Royal Assassin puts the Russian aristocracy front and center with the murder of a princess' body guard and a threat on the life of the princess herself.  The suspects are varied, and although I didn't guess who the culprit was, I wasn't surprised either; I'm not sure it could have realistically been anyone else.  Still a rather dramatic ending for a cozy and one that held my attention.  


I'm looking forward to the next book.  

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text 2015-07-10 05:57
TBR Thursday - July 9
A Study in Death - Anna Lee Huber
The Royal Assassin - Kate Parker
Grace Cries Uncle - Julie Hyzy
A Batter of Life and Death - Ellie Alexander
Sense of Deception - Victoria Laurie

In the last 12 months I've been incredibly lucky that I've been able to travel overseas twice for extended holidays, both of which were so fun I read little to none each day, which is rather a new experience for me.  


I mention this because I have to confess: my TBR pile is starting to freak me out just a little bit.


The first trip, taken last July, I read only 2-3 books but came home with over 40 new ones (Friends of the Library sales, how I love thee).  The trip I just returned from, I read one book and came home with/to 19.  And of course, there's been loads of acquisitions in the intervening months; months where I bought more than I've read.


I'm not only failing to maintain, but I'm rapidly losing ground in a way that is making my TBR piles resemble kudzu.


This week, the 5 listed above arrived and I've read 2.  A Study in Death arrived today and I'm so excited about that one I'll knock it off easily in the next day or so, but still... kudzu.


Not, admittedly, so freaked out that I'm going to do anything crazy, like buy fewer books. Let's not be rash.



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