Book Reviews: The Family Upstairs, Royal Holiday and The Familiars

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

family upstairs

Goodreads Blurb: Be careful who you let in. Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone. In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets

My take: 4 out of 5. I love Lisa Jewell novels and if you havent you should run to read a lot of them. Her newer books have mistery down to an art. It could get repetitive, but no, I was still enthralled all the way to the end and her books have true originality one to the other. It was not predictable, i had not figured out a lot of things until they were clearly spelled out. It keeps you connected up to the end and completely invested in the story and characters. We have suspense, family drama, multi generational stories, drama and I highly recommend it. It is also a really fast read.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

familiars

Goodreads Blurb: Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft. Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

My take: 3.5 out of 4.  This is a wonderful Historical fiction story. A beautiful and sad story about what being women meant in the 17th century and how much we have overcome. What power lies in women. It is also an intriguing exploration of magic: what it is, how to define it and all it’s misconceptions. A curious take on prejudice as well and all the damage that it can do. As a fan of both historical fiction and magic books this was an enjoyable read.

ROYAL HOLIDAY  by Jasmine Guillory

royal holiday

Goodreads Blurb: Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding forma lity.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

My take: 2.5 out of 5.  This was an ok romantic comedy and it has all the elements to it, but was it amazing, no. This is the fourth book in the Wedding date series, and i feel the great formula has diluted a bit. I would stay with The Proposal and Wedding Dateand start skipping the rest unless you really want a romantic comedy to read.  The good thing about this anthology is that it doesn’t all depend on the same characters. It deals with the side characters in other books so that they are related but its still new  and fresh. Although it can be a positive as it adds more options of stories and you are less bored it also means you don’t necessarily get invested in the characters. I think that’s what happened here a little bit. Also that story is just too predictable. Most romance stories are predictable but this was Hallmark Movie level predictable. That is not necessarily bad in my book, you know how much I love a good Hallmark Movie. However, it means it is better for the 1 hour and 30 minutes time frame of a movie not the 6 hours of a book.

 

 

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