Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

I just loved this book. It’s 1911 and Peggy Battenberg works in the Moonrise Bookstore in New York. But Peggy is no ordinary shop girl. She’s an heiress belonging to one of the countries richest Jewish families. Then one day, while making martinis for an eminent – if rather salacious author – and his agent, Peggy is dragged away by her Uncle David to spend the summer in New York’s illustrious and hedonistic Coney Island with her extended family. But this will be far from a jolly holiday. They will be accompanied by her younger sister Lydia’s betrothed – Henry Taul – and his mother so they can all ‘bond’. And so the mystery and murder begin. Peggy meets and falls for impoverished artist Stefan, who shows his Futurist paintings at a tiny Gallery inside Dreamland. Stefan is Serbian and therefore hated by everyone who believes him to be an anarchist and trouble-maker. Dreamland is one of three funfairs on Coney Island and probably the most famous. It really existed. Look it up. I read about it first in Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Peggy is the most wonderful hero. Naive to the point of simplicity, her eyes are opened during this ‘holiday’ to just how unfair life can be when you are not rich or entitled. Let alone an ‘alien’. I don’t think she realises that even though her family are fabulously wealthy that they will always be persona non grata amongst old money because they are Jewish. I enjoyed The Blue – my first book by Nancy Bilyeau – but this one was way more exciting and the character of Peggy will stay with me forever.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving me the opportunity to read along with my fellow Pigeons.

The Secret Sister by K.A. Clarke and A.J. Brittan

I’m not sure why a number of people have said this was an ‘easy read’. I found it heartbreaking and so sad at times. Poor Colleen being given up at birth and then losing her little sister Bryony. No wonder her life is so messed up. Poor Celia having lost her baby daughter. Poor Anna having given up her baby. I could go on. Poor everyone! But this was a well crafted and superbly written book. So many red herrings we started to suspect all sorts of people. I know it was written by two different authors writing in different ‘voices’ for Ella and Colleen but after a while I didn’t really notice. I was worried it might interrupt the flow but it never did. I had a couple of reservations but I can’t say more due to spoilers. Just curl up with a hot chocolate and read into the night. Fabulous.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for allowing me to read along with the other Pigeons and the authors.

Happy Ever After by C.C. MacDonald

I feel so mixed about this book even though towards the end I couldn’t wait to find out what happened. The problem for me is that both main protagonists are unlikable. Bit like Gone Girl. Charlie is a total prat but I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him when Naomi was upset because they couldn’t afford the 5-bedroom house by the sea she’d told all her posh London friends she was buying. You’re in your thirties with one child! Most people of your age are lucky to get on the housing ladder. She’s greedy and needy and is putting too much pressure on him. They’ve bought a stupid house that needs too much renovation. She doesn’t seem to do anything to help apart from moan about the pigeons. She can’t even spend a day with her daughter without getting in a tizz. Get real Naomi. I almost gave up half way through but then the plot got really clever and twisty and the second half of the book was brilliant. I think the annoying slow start may put people off but stick with it. It’s edge of the seat stuff at the end.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for allowing me to read along with the other Pigeons and the author.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

I loved this book more than I can say. If I could give it 10 stars I would. I was so engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered (I was reading through Pigeonhole). At one point I wanted to buy the book so I could read to the end only to discover it had not yet been published. In fact I am still so full of the tale of Bess, Alexandra and Clara/Charlotte that I am struggling to read another book yet. I cannot imagine what it must have been like having to place your new born baby in The Foundling hospital because you were too poor to look after her. But then to save for years to reclaim her only to find that she had already been claimed by someone pretending to be you. Poor Bess. Alexandra’s plight was different. Having myself been brought up by a mother who didn’t leave the house for over 35 years due to agoraphobia (though it was more complicated than just that) I sometimes got mad with Alexandra because I know how damaging it is to instil fear into your child. I understand she couldn’t go out but not to allow her ‘daughter’ to go to the park with Doctor Mead and Eliza and then normalise it isn’t fair. Anyway I could go on. The story is wonderful and the characters rich. Occasionally it was a teeny bit far fetched but hey this is fiction, not real life.
Many thanks to the Pigeonhole for giving me the opportunity to read alongside my fellow Pigeons and the author. We love you all.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

A group of thirty-somethings who were all at Oxford University together share a holiday lodge in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to see in the New Year. Apart from the ‘friends’ the only other people are Heather and Doug who run the place, Iain the handyman who lives off-site and two strange Icelandics who shouldn’t really be there at all. Hats off to Lucy Foley for creating a group of so-called old buddies who are so unlikable that we would be quite happy if more than one of them got bumped off. One does wonder how any of them got into Oxford, especially Miranda – maybe Daddy had some influential friends. Most of us (thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving us the opportunity for reading along with the other Pigeons) guessed (or hoped) who the victim was, but a stunning twist near the end made it much harder to guess who the killer was. I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered – I woke up at 5.30am and read the last part before I even had a cup of tea. Brilliant. And thanks to the author for taking part in our ‘comments’. We can be a hard lot to please, us Pigeons, but you excelled yourself.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

If you are wondering why I gave this book four stars instead of five I will endeavour to explain. Close to Home was the first and it was fab. As well as finding out the truth about what happened to Daisy, we also learnt about the police officers and detectives – Adam Fawley of course, Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer plus a few others less ‘important’. In book 2 In The Dark, we had another crime to solve but also more intrigue amongst the officers and more reveals of their relationships and back stories. But it was Book 3 No Way Out that was the real crescendo – the best story yet plus more about the main protagonists. So Book 4 was always going to be doomed to fade in comparison. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it was – but we learn very little more about Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer and what we learn about Fawley is more about his wife. Also the plotline wasn’t quite as gripping for me. However, I am still looking forward to Book 5. One thing that was really impressive about the four books is that looking back they didn’t blend into one another as so many series often do.