Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Year of the Project - Island of the Mad + The Lost Jewels

I do love a good list.  It gives a nice sense of order and focus and I love making lists about the books I want to read.  Last year I focused just on series I was behind on.  The project went great and I caught up on a ton of series but I felt like I was neglecting other books on my shelf and books at my library.  This year I have a few lists going - Series, Library, Clear Off My Shelves, and a random TBR Bingo where I pull books off my Goodreads TBR.  Here are a few of my most recent reads.

Project:  Catching Up on Series

Blurb:  A June summer's evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend's beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks--with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes--Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can't say no.
The Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, yet he seemed to be improving--or at least, finding a point of balance in her madness. So why did she disappear? Did she take the family's jewels with her, or did someone else? The Bedlam nurse, perhaps?

The trail leads Russell and Holmes through Bedlam's stony halls to the warm Venice lagoon, where ethereal beauty is jarred by Mussolini's Blackshirts, where the gilded Lido set may be tempting a madwoman, and where Cole Porter sits at a piano, playing with ideas...

My Thoughts:  I really enjoy this series.  Russell and Holmes are interesting leads both bringing a wide range of knowledge and life experience as well as a willingness to follow any mystery and hunt down the truth.  The part of the book that took place in Venice was both interesting and beautifully described.  The pace was well done and seeing Russell in a party girl role was pretty entertaining.  There was a somewhat jumbled feel as Russell and Holmes are running this way and that and I'm not sure every stop was necessary.  All and all this was an interesting and entertaining read with a fantastic ending.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Projects: Library List

Blurb:  Present Day. When respected American jewelry historian, Kate Kirby, receives a call about the Cheapside jewels, she knows she’s on the brink of the experience of a lifetime.
But the trip to London forces Kate to explore secrets that have long been buried by her own family. Back in Boston, Kate has uncovered a series of sketches in her great-grandmother’s papers linking her suffragette great-grandmother Essie to the Cheapside collection. Could these sketches hold the key to Essie’s secret life in Edwardian London?

In the summer of 1912, impoverished Irish immigrant Essie Murphy happens to be visiting her brother when a workman’s pickaxe strikes through the floor of an old tenement house in Cheapside, near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The workmen uncover a stash of treasure—from Ottoman pendants to Elizabethan and Jacobean gems—and then the finds disappear again! Could these jewels—one in particular—change the fortunes of Essie and her sisters?

Together with photographer Marcus Holt, Kate Kirby chases the history of the Cheapside gems and jewels, especially the story of a small diamond champlevé enamel ring. Soon, everything Kate believes about her family, gemology, and herself will be threatened.

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed this but didn't love it.  Kate and Essie are both interesting characters with determination and tragic backstories.  The actual plot of the book was fascinating but it didn't go into the depth that I really wanted from this story.  I was fascinated by the jewels and while I appreciated what we did get on the history of it I was left wanting more.  While Kate did have questions about Essie's past it didn't feel like she did much unraveling and what she did was done kind of last minute.  My Rating:  Liked It


  1. These both look really good.

  2. The cover for The Lost Jewels is amazing. I think I would also prefer reading Island of the Mad. I love books set in Venice!

  3. You are doing great with this self-challenge! 😃