Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

In the tradition of Kate Mosse, a swiftly-paced mystery that stretches from modern London to Tudor England

In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.

In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril.

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.–Description from Goodreads

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: April 4th 2013
by Viking Adult
ISBN
0670025933
(ISBN13: 9780670025930)
edition language
English
You can find this book HERE
My thoughts on this novel
Bristol House is the first of Beverly Swerling’s novels that I have read. I think I might be hooked. This book deals with both the past and the present and then ties them together in a seemingly effortless way.

Anyone who has studied religious history will clearly see how much reality is presented in this fictional tale. The author has done her research for this book and that made it a very enjoyable and ultimately unforgettable read.

I really liked the main character Annie. She was on point throughout the book and even though she found herself in a difficult to believe situation, she didn’t waste chapters self-doubting and trying to ignore what was plainly in front of her. Okay, so she is aware that there is the apparition of a dead monk in her flat, but she keeps moving. That’s my kind of heroine.

The romance in this work is evenly paced and believable and something that felt natural as the pages turned. I liked the male lead and thought the author did a good job of giving him traits and qualities that made him a good hero.

The dual time periods the author deals with make this a more interesting read than if all of the story had been told in only the present. I like the way she chose to shift between present and past and never felt lost or confused by the transitions.

In the end, this is a book that I would read a second time. I liked the overall story and didn’t have any trouble staying up late to finish this. I would recommend it to other readers who enjoy their fiction to be of mixed genres.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.

In Our House: Perception Vs. Reality by Marala Scott

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“In Our House” is the chilling true story of an abusive husband, his wife, and their six children trapped inside of a hellish nightmare.

Recruited by both the CIA and IBM the successful, handsome, and deceptive Colin has rendered countless abusive episodes on his beautiful wife, Alley, and his six children until he finally breaks Alley and she is no longer able to fight back. One day, three women involve Alley in a church that promises to protect her and the children from her husband’s attacks. By the time Alley realizes how they will do it, she finds herself demonically possessed with demons eating away at her. The horrifying undertaking is beyond life and now the children must find a way to survive both parents.

Marala Scott is a multi award-winning author who has taken her prolific life story and shared it in her memoir “In Our House: Perception vs. Reality”, which chronicles a childhood unlike any other. She is passionate about making a difference in this world and shares her story along with a resolution to help others avoid having one like hers. Oprah Winfrey took notice of her work and honored Marala Scott with the title of Oprah’s Ambassador of Hope in 2009.–

 

You can find this book available for purchase by going here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008Z9ZV0M/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

My review of this book:

This is possibly the strangest, and yet one of the most compelling reads I have ever picked up. Marala and her siblings as well as their mother suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her father. This shaped her childhood into a truly horrific experience. The abuse she faced from her father did not stop throughout her teen and young adult years and this memoir speaks boldly of those events.

This is a difficult book to read. It is not the writing itself that makes it hard, but rather the content. I was greatly disturbed by the idea that any child or person in general would suffer through this kind of a life and no one would step in to offer help. The author of this book does not hold back as she describes her terrible childhood. The abuse is described in such a way that you can’t help but feel an aching in your core reliving these events as you read.

Although it was hard for me to understand how any mother could allow her children to go through something like this, I do understand that it does happen. I read this book fighting myself and my morals. Part of me wanted to throw this book down and move on to another book, less disturbing, and another part of me felt this story deserved an audience and that I should stick it out. I decided to stay with the book, and although it raises some questions, I am glad that I finished it.

From my standpoint, you will either love this book or hate it, depending on your own belief system. I had difficulty believing the portions of the story related to the demonic possession of the mother. That being said, I could see how a woman who had gone through such awful abuse could have been psychologically affected and may even have developed some type of psychosis due to the head injuries and physical/mental abuse she endured. I am also certain that with such a gap between the time of those events and the writing of the book, the author may have been relying heavily on her perception of the events as a child, rather than viewing them as an adult.

I am not calling the author a liar, nor saying that the events didn’t happen as she described them, just that from my point of view, demonic activity might not have been the problem.

I understand that the author has formed a relationship with a higher power she believes in, and I respect that. I would not be able to forgive a parent for this type of torture. I am somewhat amazed that anyone could forgive such things, but I appreciate her coming forward with her story for other victims of abuse.

The end of this book has some after chapters where the children of the author speak their minds, and I wasn’t sure how that really fit in to the rest of the book. I was actually a bit confused by why they were included. Overall though, if nothing else, this book is a terrifying account of serious abuse. I found myself thinking of this long after I was finished reading it. I would encourage others who wish to learn about abusers and their victims to pick up a copy of this book.

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley