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

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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Beneath the Surface (Inspector Tom Reynolds #2) by @SpainJoanne ~ Irish #CrimeFiction #BookReview @QuercusFiction

Author: Jo Spain

Published:June 2017 by Quercus

Category: Irish Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Suspense, Book Review

Did I know it would come to this? That I was playing Russian Roulette? I would give anything to turn back time and to be with my girls. There is no shot at redemption. I am going to die. The gun is in my eye-line as the second bullet is fired. That’s the one that kills me.

Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds and his wife were enjoying a rare long weekend away. As much as Tom loved his granddaughter it would be a blessing to get good nights uninterrupted sleep. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

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Bella Toscana by Nanette Littlestone #Romance Across The Ages #BookReview for #RBRT #FridayReads

Author: Nanette Littlestone

Published: December 2018 by Words of Passion

Category: Contemporary, Romance, History, Book Review

An explosive yearning that can’t be denied

Disturbing visions from an ancient past

A mysterious stranger that somehow feels familiar

On the night of her fiftieth birthday, the comfortable ride of Toscana’s life takes an alarming plunge. Haunted by seductive visions, she tries to push aside the desire and focus on the husband who adores her. 

Toscana Blake has an organised, if not perfect, life. She’s content in her marriage to Jackson. Acknowledging the fact it may not be a passionate union, Toscana feels a deep affection for her husband and appreciates the life they have.

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The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw ~ Second Chances are Often in Unexpected Places @claidlawauthor @AccentPress

Author: Charlie Laidlaw

Due to be published on 20th June 2019 by Accent Press

Category: Contemporary, Fiction, Family Drama, Book Review

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

Emma Rossini lives what most people would consider a charmed life. However, appearances can be deceptive. When Emma’s actor father Paul Ross, becomes, as Emma herself puts it, ‘properly famous’ he moves the family out of their familiar, large flat in Edinburgh to a run down mansion in North Berwick, a seaside town just outside Edinburgh. 

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Hope by @TerryTyler4 ~ A Disturbing Look at a Possible Near Future #Dystopian #Psychological #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Terry Tyler

Kindle Edition

Category: Dystopian, Book Review

As the fourth decade of the 21st century looms, new PM Guy Morrissey and his fitness guru wife Mona (hashtag MoMo) are hailed as the motivational couple to get the UK #FitForWork, with Mona promising to ‘change the BMI of the nation’. 

Hope is a scarily plausible look into a dystopian, not too distant, future.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin #HistoricalFiction set in 1920s Chicago #Gangsters

Ahead of my review for the third book in the City Blues Quartet, The Mobster’s Lament, I’m revisiting the second instalment, Dead Man’s Blues, a historical novel based on fact. It was released in audio format in August 2016 by Wholestory Audiobooks and narrated superbly by Christopher Ragland.

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Never Be Broken (DI Marnie Rome #6) by Sarah Hilary #PoliceProcedural #CrimeFiction @sarah_hilary #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Sarah Hilary

Publication Date ~ May 16th 2019 (Ebook & Hardback)

Category: Crime, Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Book Review

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. 

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

Never Be Broken is a tense and disturbing look at gang culture, manipulation and the exploitation and murder of children, very relevant and important issues in today’s world. 

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Dead is Dead ~ Jack Bertolino #3 by @jelansing ~ Hard hitting #thriller

My Throwback Thursday choice this week is Dead Is Dead, the third in the Jack Bertolino series, published in May 2016.

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