Newshound And Bloodhound
The Crystal Crypt by Fiona Veitch Smith is a marvellous historical amateur sleuthing novel. It is the sixth book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series but can be read as a stand-alone. For me, I enjoyed catching up with familiar faces as Poppy Denby once more finds herself investigating a murder.
The novel is set in 1925 when the role of women was decidedly below that of men. Women were seen as second-class citizens, good for making the tea and looking pretty. Within the book there are strong women who are breaking out of this role. The reader meets not only Poppy as a reporter but a WPC and some female academics at Oxford. All are breaking the traditional mold of women.
As well as the women, the reader witnesses the attitudes towards disability and men of colour which horrifies the modern reader. One of my favourite scenes was of Poppy Denby forcefully acquiring a hotel room for her male colleague Ike.
The novel is mainly set within the academia of Oxford. It is very much a closed world that discourages the outsider.
Love And Community
Christmas At Hope Hall by Pam Rhodes is a heart warming contemporary Christian novel that is absolutely delightful. It is the final book in the Hope Hall trilogy. I recommend reading the previous books first but it can be read as a stand-alone.
Hope Hall has a wonderful community feel. It is a place where love and life go hand in hand. Many different groups use the hall under the care of manager Kath and caretaker Ray.
The reader is delighted to drop in on the groups – such as first aid training, mums and toddlers, drama club, dog (and owner) training and much more. We witness the interactions between the characters. There is much amusing banter, love and care as the characters bring out the best in each other.
I particularly loved the interactions between Ray and a stray dog – it seems that even, or especially, animals know when love and care is needed.
Fun And Light-Hearted
The Burglars Ball by Julia Golding is a marvellous historical YA novel that will entertain you whatever your age. It is suitable for ten years and above. It is the second book in the Jane Austen Investigates series but can be read as a stand-alone.
As a huge Jane Austen fan, I love this series focusing on the teen Jane Austen. With knowledge of Jane Austen’s novels, I can see parallels within the stories and the style of writing is reminiscent of Jane Austen. There are elements within The Burglars Ball that remind me of both Emma and also Pride And Prejudice (my favourite all-time novel).
The character of Jane Austen is lively and likable. She believes in equality for all and is willing to stand for those without a voice. She has an innate sense of justice and dislikes prejudice in all its forms. She is quite the young tom-boy too.
We witness racial prejudice and injustice as a character is judged by the colour of his skin and not the content of his character. Jane Austen sets out to prove his innocence.
There is a wonderful cosmopolitan feel to the novel as we meet up again with characters from book one who now own a bakery making and selling Indian pastries. We also meet an elephant called Betty and a colourful parrot called Don Pedro.
The Burglars Ball is a fun, light-hearted novel where we follow the tenacious Jane Austen determined to investigate the crime.
Jane Austen Investigates is a really fun series, just perfect to introduce young readers to Jane Austen, and also wonderful for die-hard Jane Austen fans such as myself.
I received a free copy via Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
Cast Your Cares On Him
The Thorn Of Truth by S.L. Russell is a marvellous Christian crime suspense that consumed me from the start.
The main themes are of being truthful and living with integrity. The main character faces a dilemma between representing the truth or bowing to popular opinion and twisting the facts to suit. Walking the truthful line is not always popular but it is the right thing to do. Sometimes it seems as if the line between truth and lies is not always black and white but a blurred shade of grey as even those who should represent the truth forget to do so.
Living a life of integrity enables us to walk tall with a clear conscience. We will have nothing to reproach ourselves for if we live truthful, open lives.
When we struggle with life we need to tap into God. “There’s a higher power with a better view of your problems.” What worries us does not worry God. He sees the bigger picture.