Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

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Grace is Gone is a nice twisty mystery about Meg and Grace Nichols. The setting is Cornwall in a peaceful small town. Cara Dorman is the neighbor of these two, Meg is the mother and Grace is the very ill 17 year old daughter. Cara is banging away at the door to drop off a bag of clothes for Grace when she makes a shocking discovery.
As she makes her way into the house calling out for Meg, she finds Grace’s wheelchair overturned, Grace is nowhere in sight and Meg is dead in her bed. Her head is bashed in so obviously it’s murder. Where is Grace? Did Meg’s violent ex-husband kidnap her?

The story is told from two points of view, Cara the neighbor and Jon, an investigative reporter. There is also Grace’s diary where Jon gets a glimpse of her life through these diary entries.

There are many correlations with a real life case about Gyspy Blanchard. If you read about that HERE you may have some spoilers as far as this book.

I enjoyed Emily Elgar’s first book If You Knew Her much more than this one. Would I read another novel by this author? Absolutely.

For more info on the author check out her website HERE. Emily grew up in West country and currently lives in East Sussex England.  Much thanks to LibraryThing for my copy of this book.

Linking up with: British Isles Friday at Joy’s Book Blog

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The Witch Elm by Tana French

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This is the second time I picked up Witcn Elm as I didn’t get very far into the story the first go round. Admittedly it was my frame of mind as I had been hoping Tana would continue with the Dublin Murder Squad. With my husband and I staying in so much these days we decided to have our own book club.  We ordered a few books from Thift Books and set to reading The Witch Elm together.  It was enjoyable keeping the same pace and discussing the plot.

As with any Tana French mystery the writing was excellent. I do wish the book description hadn’t given away so much of the story ahead of time.
It was already established one of our main characters, Toby Hennessey, was a successful handsome man who came from a good family and always seemed to be….lucky.  That is how he is described.

One evening he is awakened during a home invasion and is viciously assaulted, leaving him with devasting injuries.  He decides to spend time at Ivy House with his uncle Hugo as he recovers and also to help his uncle.  Hugo has his own medical issues so its an ideal situation for both parties. At some point during  a family visit a human skull is discovered in the 200 year old Witch elm in the garden.

All of the above is known from the book jacket.

Incidentally, Ivy House is the ancesteral home of Toby’s grandparents and now Hugo, a gathering place for all family members to visit and have Sunday lunch. A place Toby and his cousins Leon and Susanna spent summers growing up and having parties.
As always Tana French’s writing style has you fully involved.  I felt like I was in the shadows witnessing these conversations between the cousins Toby, Susanna and Leon and those with Hugo.

The small trivial parts of a conversation such as Susanna ragging on Leon for picking through a bowl of nuts. “Stop picking  through, other people like cashews too, and besides it’s disgusting. ” That sort of natural banter that makes the scene so real.

Was I surprised by the ending? Yes.  There was an incident with a detective and Toby near the end that didn’t ring true with me.

Tana French is an excellent author and I will preorder any book she’s about to have published.  I can’t say that about any other writers with the exception of Jane Harper and Robert Galbraith.

Now for a bit of fun!  The character desciptions were detailed enough that we had our own mental images and tried to imagine a cast to play them if this were a movie.  Below see the decsription of Toby – thick straight blonde hair, very blue eyes and an open boyish face.

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I’m picturing Emily Blunt as Susanna, Charlie Hunnam as Toby and Tom Hiddleston as Leon.

Anthony Hopkins as Hugo Hennessey, Saoirse Ronan as Melissa and David Tennant as Detective Rafferty.

Did you read the book? If so did you like it or wish Tana would go back to writing Dublin Murder Squad?

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Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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Dr. Emma Lewis is a 30 year old neuropsychiatrist living in London. She is offered the case of a lifetime, one which could make her career.  A well respected doctor in her field offers her the case of Mr. Nobody.  The man was found on a beach, drenched to the skin and having no apparent memory of who he is or where he is from. Could this be an actual rare case of fugue?

If you recall, back in 2005 there was a similar real case called The Piano Man, the circumstances of his case very similar and probably (in my opinion) gave our author the inspiration for this story. True story you may read about by clicking the hyperlink above.

By page 76 the plot dances around the fact of an incident with Emma and her family, so bad her family needed to be relocated and given new identities. As a reader I think it would have been better to reveal what her horrific experience was much earlier in the book. You learn why at page 200+

Anyway, she decides, against her brother`s advice, to return to Norfolk as it is a  career changing case. Also weird was a government agency did an intense background check on her, knows her identity and why she left Norfolk 14 years ago.  Lots of mystery about the government agency and what happened to Emma and her family. She was required to sign a confidentiality contract before proceeding. Hmmm…..they must know or suspect something about this Mr. Nobody.

I ask, if they wanted HER in particular why not relocate the man with fugue to a London hospital where Emma Lewis is working and reduce risk of her former identity revealed near her childhood home? Logical question.

The psychological mystery does wrap up with a few twists that were nicely incorporated.  The mystery man knows so much about Emma already although they’d never met.You have to suspend disbelief on some scenes, I wont give spoilers, but it is a decent enough mystery to make me look for her other publication.  This one is her second book.

Catherine Steadman is an actress based in North London, UK, and the author of Something in the Water. She has appeared in leading roles on British television as well as on stage in the West End. In 2016, she was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Oppenheimer. She is best known in the United States for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Random House and LibraryThing. I was not compensated and opinions are all mine.

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The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell & Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace & Music

2E92B626-28D9-439E-906B-E5DEFD24A9B1 I have become a big fan of Lisa Jewell’s mysteries but this one was just meh…ok for me. There is a lush garden in the middle of a housing complex, setting is the middle of London.

A woman moves in with her two daughters, Grace and Pip, and has a bit of adjustment to the communal lifestyle of the garden. Children freely wander around, into each other’s homes. There’s an Earth Mother sort who home schools and feeds everyone natural healthy fare, her very handsome charming husband Leo and a few dysfunctional characters.

During a birthday party that runs late in the evening, children are still up running around mind you, 13 year old Grace is found in the bushes, bloodied and in a coma.  The resulting investigation reveals some interesting facts about both the adults and children. I’ll say I very much enjoyed Jewell’s other mysteries more but this wasn’t a DNF.

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Woodstock: 50 years of Peace and Music.
I had expected this was a CD from the library but it was a book.  I brought it home anyway. It’s an Interesting compendium of stories about the bands, events, peaceful interactions and basically an overall historical account of one of the most famous concerts. For the most part the concert goers were nice young people, helping push police cars out of the mud, a phone operator stating everyone she spokes with said thank you and many other stories attesting to a civil and peaceful event.

bands I would have loved to see such as Santana, Credence, The Who & Joe Cocker. I have seen Crosby, Stills & Nash as well as Johnny Winter, just not at Woodstock. 🙂

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Woodstock is my second  book for the nonfiction challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Book’d Out
Category is History.

NonFiction

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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

goneHere we have another good mystery and family drama by English author Lisa Jewell.  Sixteen year old Ellie Mack heads off to the library one day and simply disappears.  This is resolved in the book but I don’t want to give any spoilers.

Ellie’s mother Laurel Mack is consumed with looking for her daughter and, as happens in real life scenarios, the other children and her husband take a back seat and are somewhat neglected.  This isn’t the plot of the entire book but it sets up the character development.  You see/read why the relationships fracture.

Moving ahead roughly ten years Laurel meets a man named Floyd in a chance encounter in a coffee shop.  They start seeing each other (Ellie’s ex-husband is now happily remarried) and eventually she is invited to his home to meet his daughter Poppy.  The little girl is very grown up for a 9 year old,  her physical attributes reminding Laurel of her lost daughter.

As the supporting characters move in and out of the story you feel you know them.  You can feel the tension between Laurel and her oldest daughter, the slim tether of a bond with her son and his girlfriend, the absolute support of her ex husband and the growing relationship with Floyd as Laurel tries at a second chance for a happy life.

All is not as it seems and the mystery about Ellie’s disappearance, good intentions that went awry and revelations come in a big ending in this psychological drama.

There was some food mentioned here and there but the one that stuck out was a Jambalaya Laurel prepared for a dinner with Floyd.

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This was my fourth novel by Lisa Jewell.   Obviously I am besotted by her writing.   Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

watchingThe beginning
A murder has taken place. There is a clear suspect based on evidence at the scene.  One of the things I loved is the author didn’t use a pronoun so you don’t know if the victim is male or female.  Not until near the very end!  There are alternating perspectives from several characters; these cloud the waters when you are formulating  theories about the interwoven scenarios.

This touches on so many issues from a school girl crush on a handsome teacher, a newly married couple who are at odds about having a baby, bullying, a mentally ill neighbor which you really feel for and a brilliant teenage boy who is expert at watching people and keeping detailed journals on activities. 

As a mystery/ thriller fan and reader I was pleased this wasn’t a slam dunk for me. Was I surprised about the ending? You betcha.

This is the second novel I have read by Lisa Jewell and it’s most certainly not the last. I enjoyed her latest book, The Family Upstairs, and certainly enjoyed this one.  Up next for me is Jewell’s novel I Found You

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The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan

nan Gilly MacMillan has earned a place on my must read list. After the last few lackluster mysteries it was a pleasure to tuck into a book that I couldn’t put down. I like a book with lots of twists and revelations.

The story takes place in an old English estate.  Seven year old Jocelyn Holt was a little girl when her beloved nanny Hannah Burgess up and disappeared.  The little girl was devastated as she seemed to love her more than her own mother, Lady Virginia Holt.

What happened to Hannah Burgess?

Thirty years pass and Jocelyn, now called Jo,  returns to the Holt estate due to financial difficulties after her husband dies.  She brings her young daughter Ruby along and while she struggled with a relationship with her estranged mother, she has no choice but to live there. She can’t understand the warm connection Ruby has to her mother Virginia.

One day Ruby and Jo take a kayak out on Lake Hall and drift toward an island.  Ruby discovers a skull near the shoreline and we are on our way to an interesting mystery.  Could it be Jo’s nanny Hannah who disappeared in the late 198o’s?  It all wraps up nicely but you’ll be in for quite a few surprises.  You will simultaneously dislike and feel very sorry for Virginia Holt as her character develops.

This is a dysfunctional family but it’s due to outside influences, in my opinion. Great read, lots of intrigue and I will certainly be looking for more of MacMillan’s novels.

Much thanks to LibraryThing for this advanced copy of the book.  Grab a copy when it comes out September 10, 2019.

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