The Patron Saint of Lost Souls by Menna van Praag #MagicalRealism #Romance @mennavanpraag

Author: Menna van Praag

Published: May2018 by Allison & Busby

Category: Magical Realism, Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy, Book Review

Jude is the owner of a unique antiques shop in Cambridge. She makes it her mission to match customers with the special something that they are missing, a talisman to bring them what their heart desires. Unfortunately, Jude’s life is not overflowing with the love she wishes for. 

Viola is a single-minded perfectionist whose only heart’s desire is the position of Head Chef at one of Cambridge’s most prestigious restaurants. But when Viola keeps bumping into a widower, Mathieu, she begins to discover that there’s more to life beyond the kitchen.

The story is told from three main perspectives—Jude, Viola and Mathieu and is set in Cambridge. Jude owns Gatsby’s, an antique shop full of extraordinary and special items waiting for the right person to come and buy them. She’s quite lonely, a solitary person. But all that begins to change when she receives a telephone call from child services with some completely unexpected news. Life for Jude is about to get much more interesting.

Jude’s heart lifts when she matches a person with their special item but she has always wished she could find her own lucky charm, but year after year it had escaped her. Now she doesn’t think about it much and just gets on with the day to day running of the shop. The exception is Christmas Eve.

This could be the year. So Jude has told herself every single year. Though, of course, with each passing year her hope wanes. Just as it did when she was a child and she longed for a happier childhood.

Viola is a perfectionist. She learned from her father at a young age that if anything was worth doing, it was to be done with nothing less than excellence. Viola’s ambition, all she can think about, is to be head chef of the prestigious restaurant  where she is employed, before she reaches thirty-six. To that end she works non stop, creating and perfecting dishes. Her boss has set his chefs a challenge—a cooking competition to be held on Christmas Eve. The winner would receive the title of head chef. Viola is on track with a dish she’s happy with…then she meets Mathieu.

Viola looks up then, meeting his eye. And, as she holds his gaze, she’s aware of the choice before her, a crossroads laying itself down, stone by stone.

Mathieu, a widower with a young son, has relocated to Cambridge from his native Paris. Mathieu worries about his son who is still suffering from the loss of his mother. 

The Patron Saint of Lost Souls is a delightful story of new beginnings, love and loss with a flavour of magical realism running through. Set around Christmas time, the season itself very much in the background, the story weaves through the lives and different relationships with a directness that makes them all the more authentic, as their stories merge and they adjust to the changes thrust upon them. The characters themselves are wonderfully drawn and engaging, their emotions thoroughly believable. I enjoyed Jude and young Gertie, who is wise beyond her years. Menna van Praag captures the essence of magical elements in her books so well. I love the idea of matching people with objects that hold a special significance for that certain person. This is the second book I’ve read and have another in my to be read pile. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Hive

About the Author

Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella – an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer – Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her magical realism novels are all set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge. The House at the End of Hope Street (2014), The Dress Shop of Dreams (2015), The Witches of Cambridge (2016), The Lost Art of Letter Writing (2017) & The Patron Saint of Lost Souls (2018). Menna is currently at work on her upcoming fantasy trilogy, The Sisters Grimm. The first book in the series will be published in 2020 by Transworld (UK) & HarperVoyager (US).

Author links ~ Facebook | Twitter | Website

The Darkest Place (Inspector Tom Reynolds #4) by @SpainJoanne #PoliceProcedural @QuercusBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Jo Spain

Performed by Aoife McMahon

Published: September 2018 by Quercus

Category: Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Thriller, Suspense, Audiobook, Review

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‘Island of the Lost was the isle’s name long before the hospital was built. In winter, they say the fog falls so heavy there that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Storms rage so forcefully you can be blown from the cliffs. Once St. Christina’s was built, the name took on a new meaning. Very few who went into that place ever left.’

DCI Tom Reynolds is bearing the brunt of a leak to the media implying he had mismanaged an investigation, bringing into question his reputation and his suitability to lead the team.

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The Art of Hiding by MrsAmandaProwse ~ Contemporary Fiction #FamilyDrama #FridayReads

Author: Amanda Prowse

Narrated by Amanda Prowse

Published: August 2017 by Brilliance Audio

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Audiobook Review

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What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Replacement Chronicles (parts 1,2 & 3) by Harper Swan #Prehistoric #HistFic

Throwback Thursday this week travels way back in time with The Replacement Chronicles. 

My Thoughts

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Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) by William Shaw ~ Crime in Kent @william1shaw

Author: William Shaw

Published: May 2018 by riverrun

Category: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Book Review

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No-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.

DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing – resentful teenager in tow – from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.

If you read The Birdwatcher you’ll be familiar with DS Alexandra Cupidi, who moved from the Met in London to Kent Serious Crime Directorate.

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No Way Back by Kelly Florentia ~Contemporary Fiction #Romance @kellyflorentia #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Kelly Florentia

Published: September 2017 by Urbane Publications

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Book Review

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When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma… Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she’s not sure she’s ready for.

Audrey Fox is lost and devastated when her wedding is called off by professional photographer Nick, her fiancé of eight years. It seems he’s not ready for marriage, unable to make the final commitment and wants to carry on as they are.

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Murder Beyond the Precipice by Penny Goetjen ~ #BookReview for #RBRT #Murder & Mayhem in Maine #FridayReads

Author: Penny Goetjen

Published: October 2018 by Secret Harbor Press

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Murder, Book Review

The Livingston family is no stranger to tragedy. Losing both parents at a young age in what authorities ruled an accident, Lucretia Livingston, the sole heir to the estate, is left to pick up the pieces. But many locals question the circumstances surrounding their deaths and if the family’s wealth was an irresistibly seductive motive for crossing the line.

Elizabeth Pennington returns to the coast of Maine after receiving an unexpected wedding invitation. Hoping to surprise her friend, she arrives unannounced at the Livingston Estate-turned-inn, only to discover no one knows her whereabouts. Just as disconcerting is the disappearance of the innkeeper’s young bride, Lucretia. Frantic for answers, Elizabeth becomes tangled in a tortured trail of deception, betrayal, love lost and murder.

This is the follow up to Murder on the Precipice but can be read as a standalone.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Wake-Robin Ridge by @MarciaMeara #Mystery set in the North Carolina Mountains

My Throwback Thursday choice is the first of the Wake-Robin Ridge trilogy, a dual time line story with flashbacks to fifty years previously. I’ve read all three books and loved them.

 

My thoughts

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Heavy on the Dead (Leo Waterman #12) by G.M. Ford ~ Murder/Mystery #AudiobookReview

Author: G.M. Ford

Performed by Patrick Lawlor

Published: July 2019 by Brilliance Audio

Category: Murder, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Audiobook, Book Review

After seven months laying low in Ocean Beach, California, Seattle PI Leo Waterman has finally stopped looking over his shoulder—specifically, for the vengeful band of Washington white supremacists who blame Leo for blindsiding their big plans for America. Where better to disappear with his bodyguard, Gabe, than this laid-back stretch of San Diego heaven? But when Leo finds a boy’s body on the beach, he comes out of hiding to investigate.

The Leo Waterman series is one of my favourites and one I’ve followed from the start. I love the way G.M. Ford writes and Patrick Lawlor’s narrations have been very enjoyable and easy to listen to throughout. 

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Forgotten Bones (Dead Remaining) by Vivian Barz #CrimeFiction #NetGalley #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Vivian Barz

Published: August 2019 by Thomas & Mercer

Category: Crime, Mystery, Murder, Paranormal, Book Review

An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility.

When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.

Skipping over the prologue, which I thought was too long and actually unnecessary since the characters don’t feature again, Police Officer Susan Marlan responds to a road traffic accident where the decades old remains of a child’s body is discovered buried next to a telephone pole that had been knocked down.

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