Books that take place in another country

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week the topic is Books that take place in another country. I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday topic for quite awhile, but this topic inspired me since reading books set in other places is one reason I love to read. When I looked at my reading lists back to 2012 however, I discovered that I don’t read too many books set outside the United States. And the ones I do read are often set in the United Kingdom or Canada. I do have some books I want to read set in other places (Africa, Asia, Europe), but haven’t read them yet. I’ve included one historical fantasy that was set in Russia. The rest are mysteries.

As I finished up this post I see that I had a Top Ten Tuesday post from 2016–Books set outside the U.S. which has some of the same books. However, I didn’t write about those books (and I spent quite a bit of time on this!!) so I’m going to post it…lol.

I have broken out the books which take place in Great Britain into England, Scotland and Wales. In many ways they feel like separate countries! However, I think I wanted to pretend to myself that I have a more diverse reading experience than I do!

Note: All links in my title for the book or series go to Goodreads. In the case of a series the link and photo of the book are for the first book in that series. If I have a link in the part where I write about the book or series the link is to a review on my blog.

India

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

This is a book I’m listening to set in Calcutta, India in 1919. It’s a mystery about an English police officer who comes to Calcutta to join the police force there. India was under British rule at the time so the British are in charge of the government, but there are Indians who are part of the police force. India is shown here with Indians working with the British government as well as Indians who are working for India’s independence. The British are mostly a self-satisfied lot who’ve brought civilization to the savages. I’m really enjoying the book and am nearly finished.

England

The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths

This series mostly takes place in Norfolk, England. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and college professor who sometimes consults with the police. I’ve read eight books in this series so far and love them all. The tenth book comes out this spring.

Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie

I read quite a few police procedurals set in England, but probably my favorite police procedural series set in England is the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series set mostly in London though Duncan and Gemma sometimes travel outside of London and at least once I can think of there’s a mystery set in Scotland. I’ve read all the books written so far in this series, have reviewed most of them and love them all.

Scotland

Shetland Island series by Ann Cleeves

This series takes place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. I read Raven Black quite a while ago, but read White Nights this year. I enjoy this series a lot and have the third book in the series to read soon.

DI Marjory Fleming series by Aline Templeton

This series is set in southwest Scotland near Galloway. DI Marjory Fleming and her team of detectives are very good characters to read about. They don’t always have it easy and her subordinates and superiors don’t always like Marjory, but she’s a very interesting character. My favorite book in the series is the first book–Cold in the Earth. Very good! However, I’m bogged down in the sixth book in the series at the moment. I’m going to finish it soon though and I think I will end up liking it.

Wales

Constable Evans series by Rhys Bowen

This series takes place in Wales which in these books seems like a different country from England. The Welsh characters all speak Welsh–especially when they are around any English visitors! This is quite a lighthearted police procedural series. I’ve read the first two books in the series and am really enjoying them.

Canada

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny

These take place in Quebec, Canada. It certainly feels very foreign to me since the main character is part of the French Canadian part of Canada. Though Chief Inspector Armand Gamache speaks excellent English he is most definitely part of the French Canadian community. I’m really enjoying these books and recently read books 6 and 7–Bury Your Dead and A Trick of the Light.

Constable Molly Smith series by Vicki Delany

These books take place in British Columbia, Canada. I’ve loved all that I’ve read (six of the eight books) and hope Ms. Delany writes some more. The last book was written in 2016 and Ms. Delany is currently writing several other series. I like this series best and do hope she will continue.

Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong (formerly called the Casey Duncan series)

I’ve read the first two books in this series and have the third book to read very soon! This mystery series is very suspenseful. I don’t usually like books which are too suspenseful, but I’ve made an exception for these. They’re set in the wilderness of northern Canada in a village which is “off-the-map”–which helps add to the suspense.

Ireland

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor

Set in a small village in County Cork, Ireland. I really enjoyed this book and have the second book so I need to read it soon!

Russia

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This is a historical fantasy which set in a fantasy Russia. The book is told like a fairy tale and was really enjoyable. The second book in the series came out in January 2018 and I hope to read it this year.

Iceland

Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason

I read this book in 2017. It’s a prequel to the series which is set in Reykjavik, Iceland. Not all the books are translated into English, but a few are and I’m hoping to read more about Inspector Erlendur.

What books do you like which take place in a different country?

 

 

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

named-of-the-dragon-by-Susanna-KearsleyNamed of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
Series: None
Genre: Historical Fiction (romance, mystery, suspense)
Setting: Wales (United Kingdom)
Published by Sourcebook, 2015 (originally published July 13, 1998)
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Oct 6, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
336 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift – conveniently in search of an agent – is the deciding factor.  On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen’s baby arouses painful memories of Lyn’s own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen’s baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen’s dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.

Initial thoughts

  • I love the book! It takes place in Wales and at Christmas time. It’s magical!

Cheers

  • Lyn’s baby died when he was born five years (before the book opens), but she has never recovered from that. I can only imagine how terrible it would be for a baby to die. I can certainly imagine her difficulty moving on.
  • She agrees to spend Christmas in Wales with one of her writer’s (Lyn’s a literary agent) with an enticement of signing another author. She’s dismayed when she arrives and discovers there’s a young mother with her year old baby staying nearby.
  • Lyn has nightmares about her baby nearly every night so she’s not surprised to have them in Wales, too. However, they have changed and include other people who talk about Merlin and his prophecies.
  • The book is historical fiction, romance, mystery, suspense and maybe a little paranormal all rolled into one. Susanna Kearsley’s books often have a paranormal aspect to them and this has a very slight part in the book. However, I’m not even sure it is paranormal.
  • Susanna Kearsley writes so well. I love her use of language, the love of writing which shows through and both the history and characters she writes about.
  • Her characters are well drawn so I feel I know them and would enjoy talking to them. We see through Lyn’s eyes and she has a clear eye–perhaps because she’s a literary agent. She sees the self-centered characters of Bridget, James and Christopher, but accepts them as they are. We get to know other characters, too: Gareth, a famous playwright whom she dislikes at first meeting; Owen and Dilys who take care of Castle Farm; Elen, the mother of Stevie the baby Lyn doesn’t want to see.
  • I’m always a sucker for animals so I like the cats, Chance the Jack Russell terrier and Sovereign the horse.
  • I like the bit of romance in the book as well as the mystery and suspense. I wasn’t even sure it really was mystery and suspense until the end!
  • The book takes place during Christmas and I love Christmas so that was also a plus for me! (Although it’s not a Christmas book per se–Christmas is not the focus of the book.)
  • I haven’t read many books set in Wales and especially with the atmosphere and history of the place I love the setting.

Jeers

  • I’m not sure if there’s a paranormal plot line or not. I could argue either way, but it didn’t really matter to me. I love the book anyway!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the third book I’ve ready by Ms. Kearsley and I’ve loved every one of them. With this book I can certainly see why she is sometimes compared to Mary Stewart. I read all of Mary Stewart’s books when I was a teenager and I loved them.
  • I thought it was so interesting to read at the end of the book that Castle Farm is a real place. Ms. Kearsley  even has photos of it at her website.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Susanna Kearsley studied politics and international development at university, and has worked as a museum curator.
  • Her first novel Mariana won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Literary Prize and launched her writing career. Susanna continued her mix of the historical and paranormal in novels The Splendour Falls, Named of the Dragon, Shadowy Horses and Season of Storms.
  • Susanna Kearsley also writes classic-style thrillers under the name of Emma Cole.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl

Review: A Killer’s Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan

a-killers-christmas-in-wales

A Killer’s Christmas in Wales
by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Series: Penny Brannigan #3
Genre: Mystery (cozy)
Published by Minotaur Books
Library book
274 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: As the townsfolk of the Welsh valley town of Llanelen settle in for the snowiest winter in twenty-five years, an American stranger arrives. Harry Saunders charms the ladies, one of them in particular: Evelyn Lloyd, the town’s former postmistress, who was left comfortably off after the death of her husband. After Mrs. Lloyd invests a good deal of money with him, Harry goes missing, as does her money. His body is soon discovered outside the walls of Conwy Castle, and Mrs. Lloyd is implicated in the murder.

Although Penny Brannigan and her business partner, Victoria Hopkirk, are busy overseeing the grand opening of their new spa, that doesn’t stop Mrs. Lloyd from desperately seeking Penny’s help to prove her innocence. It’s quite possible that Harry made other enemies while in Llanelen and Penny’s investigation unfolds while she juggles her work at the spa, her growing relationship with Detective Inspector Davies, and the Christmas window competition that she signed up to judge.

She was not bothered that he would recognize her even if he did turn around. He hadn’t paid much attention to her when they’d met in Evelyn Lloyd’s home, today she was wearing a hat, and as she had learned a long time ago, women her age are almost invisible to the rest of the world.

and

“. . . If we can find the time to read at all, we are looking for a book with well-developed characters and a complicated plot that still promises to be a fast, easy read. We have learned to be multitaskers. We talk on the phone while we draft an e-mail. We eat and text while we drive.

“So I would ask you on this beautiful Christmas morning to consider those three wise men who made that journey to Bethlehem two thousand years ago and . . .”

Penny’s attention drifted away. She shifted in her seat and gazed slowly around the church.

Cheers

  • I like the Christmas details in the book.
  • I picked this book up because it was a Christmas book and was on a display at my library. The cover was cute and caught my eye. I didn’t know where the book fell in the series and it didn’t really matter for the mystery that I read the third book first.
  • I like the setting in Wales. Not too many contemporary books about Wales.
  • I like Penny and Victoria, but didn’t get enough of them in this book. I might like the relationship between Penny and Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies, but didn’t see them together very much. We don’t get his point-of-view. Again, this might just be because it’s the third book in the series.

Jeers

  • The beginning is a little slow.
  • I am puzzled about who Dorothy Martin is. She appears in one scene, gives Penny some helpful advice and goes on her way. It just seems too convenient. She comes into the book like someone the reader should know, but I didn’t! She and Penny seem to have immediate rapport, but she’s only on two pages of the book?!
  • Penny is in a relationship with a policeman, but I felt it was more convenience so she could ask questions and get answers.
  • It may just be that I started with the third book in the series, but I didn’t feel there was a lot of characterization. I didn’t really feel I knew the characters other than Evelyn Lloyd and Florence who were the focus of the first half of the book.
  • Some parts of the mystery seem to come out of left field and others aren’t really followed up.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I felt the first part of the book went on for too long. I was a bit bored, but even though there were problems with the book and the mystery I read the second half quickly. I will probably try another one by the author and see how I like it.
  • I gave the book a C+, because I did like the second half of the book quite well.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog