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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Weeping Lady Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

Perdita and Piper Rivers are now settled into their new life at Marquess House, but a violent storm threatens to uncover more secrets. In this short story, following on from the previous three books, what new mysteries are about to be revealed?

I really enjoyed reading the Marquess House trilogy and so, while I was pre-ordering Alexandra Walsh’s next book, The Wind Chime, I was thrilled to see that there was also a short story about Perdita and Piper that I hadn’t yet read. This does contain some spoilers, so if this sounds like your sort of book, it would definitely be worthwhile reading the others first.

Told in two time frames, we learn of a convent in 1486 where the bones of a suspected saint have been discovered. Before a sacred shrine can be erected, Mother Superior, Sister Non, knows she has to intervene to prevent her secret from being revealed. Just who do the bones belong to? This story is taken up in the present day by the Rivers sisters, as they aim to uncover the truth behind a centuries-old ghost story.

The Weeping Lady Conspiracy moves on at a good pace and is a perfect read for anyone who enjoys dual time frame novels. I am also pleased to see that the trilogy has now become a saga and I am eagerly awaiting the, as yet, unnamed fourth book in the series.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

The year is 1603 and the reign of the Tudors has come to an end. The Scottish king James, now James I of England, has taken the throne, much to the anger of those who believe that there is another rightful monarch residing in the country. Back in the present day, Dr Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper are still taken aback at the changes that have happened in the past year, but know that even more is ahead. If they can find the one thing that has been eluding them, could they have the evidence that could alter the course of British history forever? With old enemies set to resurface, how much more blood will be shed to prevent secrets from emerging?

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy is the final book of the Marquess House trilogy and I would advise that you read the previous two (The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy) before starting this one in order to develop a full understanding of the plot. Briefly, and without spoilers, in the previous books we discover that the sisters have inherited their family home, Marquess House, an impressive building containing a wealth of history. They soon discover that the house is hiding numerous secrets that could potentially change everything we thought we knew about Tudor history, and that there are people who would happily kill to keep us all in the dark. 

As someone interested in this era of British history, I’ve loved the journey that Alexandra Walsh has taken me on, merging fact with fiction to the point where it is impossible to see the joins! I enjoy books that challenge my thinking and, as I read this, I found myself researching characters and aspects of the plot in order to get a better understanding of this turbulent time in Britain’s past. By referencing real events such as the Main and Gunpowder Plots, there is an air of authenticity about the book, and the amount of research undertaken by the author is apparent. I admit to not knowing a great deal about Arbella Stuart, but after reading this, I will definitely be finding out more about her.

In the present day part of the story, there are plenty of loose ends left from previous books that I hoped would be tied up by the end and I was pleased to see that they were. I must say that I am very envious of Perdita’s life: living in such a historic building with access to all of that research material sounds like my idea of heaven! 

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the Marquess House trilogy, I am sad that it has come to an end. I hope that Alexandra Walsh has a similar idea in the pipeline as I’d love to read her take on another aspect of history – I’m sure there is plenty of scope for a few more conspiracy theories!

With thanks to Sapere Books for my copy of The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy. 

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

After years on the throne of England, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, was the last of the Tudor monarchs. Or was she? With two more legitimate heirs, known only by a select few, the question of who will take control after Elizabeth’s death is a hotly-debated subject. Now Phillip II of Spain has discovered the secret and it is feared that he will use it to his advantage to claim the throne as his own.

Fast forward over 400 years, and Perdita Rivers and her twin sister, Piper, are ensconced in Castle Jerusalem in Andorra, after their research uncovered a new Tudor bloodline that certain agencies would kill to keep hidden. With their latest discoveries, the sisters are, once again, placed in danger. Is revealing the truth worth more than their own lives?

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in the Marquess House trilogy and follows on from The Catherine Howard Conspiracy. For this reason, it is advisable to read this series in sequence so you can fully understand the circumstances the Rivers sisters have found themselves in.

I really enjoyed the first in this series so was looking forward to reading the next installment. In this book, we spend more time in the past than The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, and this was understandable seeing as we already know Perdita and Piper and the reasons behind them being where they are. Both time frames are as intriguing as the other and I really enjoyed how the two parts were woven together.

As someone who is interested in Tudor history, I especially enjoyed the importance the author has placed on the women of the time, in particular the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. At a time when the men in power were intent on war, I liked reading about the machinations of the Ladies of Melusine who were covertly discovering more about potential plots than those whose job it actually was! I think we have also been given a hint here as to something that may occur in the third book: Melusina, a female spirit of fresh water… Rivers… hmm…

In The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy, we read about an alternative take on the Tudors which, if true, would change the face of British history. The twist relating to the death of Elizabeth was definitely not one that I was expecting!

For fans of dual timeline stories, this is a great read. I am looking forward to reading the final part of the trilogy and seeing where Perdita and Piper’s research takes them next.

With thanks to Netgalley and Sapere Books for my copy.

Monthly Round Up – March 2019

A quarter of the year gone and I am a couple of books ahead on my GoodReads challenge. At the moment, I’ve got so many good books to read from Net Galley and not enough time to read them!

Books I’ve Read

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

The first in a dual timeline trilogy where we discover the re-imagined history of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard. I love books where fact and fiction are blurred and this mystery definitely provided that! I can’t wait to read book two and pick up where we left off.

 

The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley

Another dual timeline story, this time both parts being set in different years of the Victorian era. When a young woman finds a hidden garden, she wonders what has happened in the past to put it into such a state. A gentle read, the review forming part of the blog tour.

 

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

One of my favourite books of the year so far. Who is the mysterious J. T. LeBeau and what has he done? Definitely the sort of book where you should not read any spoilers in order to immerse yourself fully in the plot. Superb writing from Steve Cavanagh.

 

Family Ties by Nicholas Rhea

When Detective Mark Pemberton uncovers an unsolved case from 1916, he makes it his mission to find the murderer of Private James Hartley. Using the original notes and his own detective work, this is a police procedural with a twist.

 

Final Betrayal by Patricia Gibney

The sixth in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective investigating a serial killer who seems to be targeting pairs of young women. An action-packed plot and another great read. The review will form part of the blog tour in April.

 

Where the Dead Fall by M J Lee

I loved the first in the D I Ridpath series and this one is just as good. Still seconded to the coroner’s office, Ridpath witnesses a crime that threatens to reignite the gang wars in Manchester not seen since the 1990s. I couldn’t put this one down!

 

Books I’ve Acquired

‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘ 

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable .

 

You are outside your front door. There are strangers in your house. Then you realise… You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

 

 

The charred remains of a child are discovered – a child no one seems to have missed…

It’s high summer, and the lakes are in the midst of an unrelenting heatwave. Uncontrollable fell fires are breaking out across the moors faster than they can be extinguished. When firefighters uncover the body of a dead child at the heart of the latest blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite’s arson investigation turns to one of murder.

Jude was born and bred in the Lake District. He knows everyone… and everyone knows him. Except his intriguing new Detective Sergeant, Ashleigh O’Halloran, who is running from a dangerous past and has secrets of her own to hide…

Temperatures – and tension – in the village are rising, and with the body count rising Jude and his team race against the clock to catch the killer before it’s too late…

 

Leeds, England. July, 1899. The hot summer has been fairly quiet for Detective Superintendent Tom Harper and his squad, until a daring burglary occurs at an expensive Leeds address. Then his friend and former colleague, Inspector Billy Reed, asks for his help. Billy’s brother, Charlie, a shopkeeper, has committed suicide. Going through Charlie’s papers, Billy discovers crippling rent rises demanded by his new landlord. Could these have driven him to his death?

As Harper investigates, he uncovers a web of intimidation and corruption that leads back to the mysterious North Leeds Company. Who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and bringing a new kind of misery and violence to the people of Leeds? Harper is determined to unmask the culprits, but how much blood will be shed as he tries?

 

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

 

I’ve just started reading The Five, a book I’ve been looking forward to reading ever since hearing about it last year. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one! Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

51UcdiN3gyL._SY346_After having no contact with her grandmother throughout her life, Dr Perdita Rivers is shocked to discover that on her death, she has inherited Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire. Finding herself wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, Perdita sets out to discover the reason behind her estrangement from her grandmother. She soon realises that something is afoot at Marquess House after discovering documents claiming that the fifth wife of Henry VIII was not, in fact, executed, but instead managed to escape his tyranny. Will Perdita discover the fate of the Tudor Queen and find out just how her grandmother is connected?

I am a fan of fiction containing a dual timeline and so The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was definitely a book that appealed straight away, especially with its Tudor link – another of my interests. I was intrigued to read about Henry VIII’s fifth wife, as she is one of the Tudor Queens that I know least about and I loved how the author has merged historical fact with fiction, to the point that I began to wonder which parts were real and which were not!

History has perceived Catherine as a flirtatious, naive young woman but Alexandra Walsh paints a completely different picture of the ill-fated queen. In The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, we see her constantly in fear of her husband, whose behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. Several scenes were truly heartbreaking as we see how she is being mistreated and I was willing her to escape his clutches. I particularly enjoyed the relationship she had with Henry’s previous wife, Anne of Cleves, the only other woman who truly knew what it was like to be married to the king.

Perdita, I found, to be quite a complex character and my feelings towards her changed throughout the book. I did, however, find myself incredibly envious of her having all of that priceless historical documentation at her disposal! I admired her tenacity when, faced with a potential life-threatening situation, she was determined to uncover the truth about what had happened to Catherine Howard.

As I knew that this was the first in a trilogy, I couldn’t wait to see how the author would end this first installment. I liked how, although the main mysteries in the book had been solved, there is a clear indication of what is going to happen in part two.

This is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

With thanks to Sapere Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

Monthly Roundup – February 2019

February may be a short month but I’ve managed to read some books that I’m sure are going to feature on my ‘favourites of 2019’ list. It’s also been the month when I’ve been able to share my reviews of some of the books that I read a while ago due to them being part of their respective blog tours.

The Last by Hanna Jameson was a book that I read at the end of last year. I’d read so many good things about this book on social media that I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to take part in the blog tour. This dystopian murder-mystery certainly lived up to my expectations.

 

 

I also shared a review of Remember Me by D. E. White as part of the blog tour. Set in Wales, this story of a deranged serial killer was a great read with plenty of sub-plots that all tied together nicely.

 

 

One of my favourite series of recent years has definitely been Sarah Flint’s Charlie Stafford series. I was pleased to share an extract from Mummy’s Favourite, the first in the series, which has just been published in paperback after previously being available as an ebook.

 

 

Another series I am really enjoying is the DI Kelly Porter books by Rachel Lynch. I shared a review of Bitter Edge as part of the blog tour, another brilliant read set in the Lake District.

 

 

 

I was also on the blog tour for The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett. This is the sixth in the series and I can’t believe I have never read any of the others! This will definitely be rectified as I really enjoyed reading about the forensics expert.

 

 

The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin was another great read that featured my review as part of the blog tour. Set in the Languedoc lavender fields, it asks the question: Do we really know those closest to us?

 

 

I was also pleased to share an extract from Death Will Find Me by Vanessa Robertson, a historical crime novel set in Scotland in 1920.

 

 

 

I also took part in a cover reveal for The Family by P. R. Black. The cover and the synopsis have definitely whetted my appetite for the book and I will be featuring a review as part of the blog tour soon.

 

 

I recently finished reading Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse, the first in a new series about Robin Lyons who has been dismissed from her role as a Met detective. A review will be published nearer publication date.

 

I also read three of the books that I had been waiting to read: The Stone Circle by Elly GriffithsOn My Life by Angela Clarke and Dead Memories by Angela Marsons. Like many other bloggers, I enjoyed each of these books immensely and cannot recommend them enough!

 

Books I Have Acquired

In a rural English village in the middle of a snowstorm, the unthinkable happens: the school is under siege.

From the wounded headmaster barricaded in the library, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the pregnant police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the terrified 8-year-old Syrian refugee, to the kids sheltering in the school theatre still rehearsing Macbeth, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and try to save the people they love . . .

In an intense exploration of fear and violence, courage and redemption, Rosamund Lupton takes us deep into the heart of human experience.

 

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?
And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?

 

‘She lifted the flap of the envelope and pulled out the single white page. As she opened it up she stared, open mouthed. Four words were typed on the page. I am watching you.’

When Amy Whyte and Penny Brogan leave a local nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning and don’t arrive home, their families are beside themselves with worry. Conor Dowling has just been released from prison, a man full of hatred for Amy, the girl who put him behind bars in the first place.

The case is given to Detective Lottie Parker, when the girls’ blood-soaked bodies are found, days later, in a derelict squat. Chillingly, both girls are clutching silver coins in their hands – what message is this killer leaving behind? All the signs point to Conor but his alibi is water tight.

As Lottie examines Penny and Amy’s final days alive in a desperate search for clues, two more girls are found stabbed to death in a luxury apartment complex. Caught up in what is fast becoming her toughest case yet, Lottie is unaware that somebody is watching her every move.

Then Lottie’s two daughters, Katie and Chloe suddenly disappear from the town centre. Terrified that the killer has her girls, the stakes have never been higher for Lottie.

But as Lottie puts everything on the line to find her daughters and solve the case, she’s about to find herself in terrible danger – someone has a personal axe to grind with her and they know the best way to get to her is to hurt the ones she loves the most.

So, a busy February! Here’s to a great March!

 

 

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