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 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.

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

Another brilliant book from Cara Hunter. I started this book the night before last but then I had a day off work and I literally just sat at home and read to the end. So intricately put together and I love the way the detectives and PCs are growing in character. After a while you start to question everyone and everything. Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? Is anyone telling the truth? Who really are the victims here? I can’t wait to read the next in the series No Way Out. In fact I’ve just purchased it for my Kindle.

Close To Home by Cara Hunter

This is the first time I’ve given five stars to a book in ages but Close To Home is worth every star. It was absolutely riveting. I read it with The Pigeonhole (many thanks to them and to my fellow Pigeons and Cara who was commenting along with us). I rarely give five stars to any detective novel but this was something else. On a couple of occasions I stayed up till midnight to get the following day’s stave – including the final part. The ending was unexpected but I can’t say more because that would give away spoilers. Poor Adam and Alex (their back story) and poor Leo is all I’m going to say. You never know who’s innocent and who’s guilty but Barry and Sharon are ghastly though I’m not sure Sharon deserves everything that’s coming to her. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Even Stranger by Marilyn Messik

“I thought I’d knocked him out, but in a flash he’d turned on to all fours and was crawling swiftly, spider-like, back towards us. He still held the knife, so I set fire to the handle. The wood flamed and he hissed in pain but didn’t let go. It was all turning rather awkward.”

Having first met Stella as a child in Relatively Strange we now encounter her once again as an adult in the early 70s in Even Stranger. She is trying hard not to stand out by keeping her powers hidden as much as possible. From book one we know she can fly (though it’s more difficult when you’re bigger), move objects and use her mind to read other people’s. Following a series of unremarkable and often unsuccessful jobs, she decides to start her own service business. Whatever you need doing Stella will do it – from typing and research to picking up children and house sitting dogs (more of the latter later).

It’s been six years since her debacle with a group of people with similar abilities including the Peacock sisters, Gloria, Ed and Hamlet (a giant dog) plus Sam who they rescued from a dangerous government research facility looking into children with psi powers. Stella is aided in her new venture by her eccentric 83 year old aunt Kitty and Brenda who is employed to help them. There is also a snooty Borzoi (whom she acquired from a recently deceased client). I said there would be another dog. In this book Stella pits her wits and powers against three different foes and puts herself in danger as a result. Oh yes and there’s a new romance!! And creepy dolls.

It’s yet again a fabulous roller-coaster ride. Please don’t try to rationalise her powers – this is psi-fi and you need accept them from day one or you’ll be disappointed. I love Stella and her family and can’t wait for book three.