Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford

The setting brings to mind Downton Abbey in all its glory - the Inghams are very similar and the Swanns have served the family for generations. Their support, confidentiality and the trust that the family has in them goes well beyond the norm. This was the only difference I found from other aristocratic families. The two families are linked very closely and through the generations a strong physical relationship has developed between the two.

The present set up is idyllic. We have a large family of beautiful youngsters and a seemingly strong marriage. Everything is about to blow up with the tragedy of Daphne - the nicest, friendliest of the teenagers who is raped and made pregnant on their own grounds itself. How the story develops from there and alongside the personal story of the two families, the onset of WWI and the carnage, destruction and death that follows is beautifully and emotionally described in this story.

Taking us away from Edwardian England and the beginning of women's emancipation and independence the story will interest all readers of not just general fiction but history as well. This author certainly does not disappoint her readers.

I was thrilled to get this book from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley but was most disappointed when the second book request in the series was turned down. I thought that was totally unfair but then luck smiled on me and I got the second and third book directly from the Marketing Division of St. Martin's Press. Thank you for the books. I am certainly looking ever so much to reading the sequels.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian

I was intrigued firstly by this book winning the Man Booker Prize for 2016 but it was mainly the title.  Coming from a country where being vegetarian was quite commonplace it was puzzling how this could be the reason for so much dissension and conflict!

Set in South Korea Yeong-hye is a very average wife and housewife. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. She suddenly starts having violent dreams and decides to stop eating meat. This brings her to an extraordinary physical state of being weak and malnourished and also creates a lot of confusion and conflict within her own family. The story begins from there and leads to a complete breakdown in not just her but the entire family unit.

The conflict is between one of personal choices and what society expects of one and how the two have to be reconciled and the result of what happens when it does not. The unravelling of Yeong- hye told in three parts is disturbing but not unrealistic. For me it was rather a slow read because I wanted to understand what was going on here and in certain sections it was rather difficult for me to do so.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Unreasonable Doubt by Vicki Delany

Walt Desmond was incarcerated for twenty five years for a crime he did not commit. His case was taken up by an organisation which pursues unlawful/unjust/incorrect decisions by the courts and he was one of those lucky ones who did get out, if you can call twenty five years being imprisoned lucky. Walt has just one idea only. To get back to Trafalgar where he lived and find out as to why the cops decided he was the killer in a horrendous crime.

Everyone else in Trafalgar however does not want Walt back. He rekindles ugly memories that people would like conveniently forgotton. They do not remember him as a quiet man who minded his own business, had no previous record of any kind. They only remember him as the person who murdered the pretty Sophia and these feelings are kept at a very high fever pitch by interested parties in the town of Trafalgar.

The police have their hands full trying to keep the peace, protect Walt (though they themselves are puzzled as to why he came back to such an antagonistic environment). The police themselves are being sued for wrongful detention to the tune of five million dollars and further harassment of Walt would ensue that this figure would go up.

Since his wrongful detention, the police have to reopen the case as it then becomes an unsolved crime and this is where the action starts. It is quite obvious that there are several interested parties not wanting the case to be pursued and it is also obvious that the police were involved in a huge cover up/incompetence years ago. Unraveling the issue and dealing with a new series of attempted rapes makes this story a very interesting one.

The detective Molly and the series is a new one for me and one I will definitely be keeping an eye out for.

Told cleverly and in a methodical manner the story unfolded in stages and you knew you were getting somewhere.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Shelby is your average teenage girl, driving her mother nuts with her behaviour. One tragedy, just one bad judgement call and Shelby's life is changed. Not just hers but the entire family has to live with her changed personality.

Shelby has no self worth, does not want to live, ends up in a psychiatric hospital and there is no hope at all for the future. Her mother however believes that there is some way Shelby can be redeemed and be made alive again.

The story of survival, belief and family love overwhelm in this story. Other than your nearest and dearest no one is ever going to have faith that you will overcome the greatest obstacles and odds that life has put in your way. To come back to living needs enormous amounts of willpower, love and support. You cannot do it alone and Shelby's story is one of survival.

A very emotional read for any mother who has undergone nail biting tension as to where your teenager daughter or son is and what they are upto, this is for you.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn

The Lady of Misrule: A Novel

I knew about Lady Jane Grey and the infamous nine day rule. I did not know the background story at all and this story filled in all the gaps.

Elizabeth Tilney accompanied Lady Jane Grey all across London to the Tower. She surprised herself even by volunteering for this job. She did not know what it entailed nor did she seem to care. Elizabeth lived in the moment, did not know anything very much about the world at large and did not seem to care. Her foray into London and accompanying Lady Jane Grey changed her as much as it possibly could.  She thought it was a temporary stay, after some time the Queen would forgive and forget and Lady Jane would go back to wherever she had to go and Elizabeth would go back home to her boring life.

The two could not have been more different - Jane was erudite, self contained and resolute. Elizabeth was the opposite. She could not understand Jane and her studious ways, she could not fathom how someone could be so "alone". Characterization was wonderful in this book.  You could visualise every scene the manner in which Elizabeth and Jane would react to each other with just a word, or with a raised eyebrow!

The story necessarily ended with the summary execution of both Jane and her young husband but the story of Elizabeth is the one that interested me more. I would have liked to know what happened to her afterwards.

Family machinations during the Tudor regime, no love lost between family members and betrayal was commonplace. This is part of this period of history and it is well enacted here.

The book was sent to me by Edelweiss for an unbiased review.

Monday, May 23, 2016

daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope


Joanna Trollope always always gets it right with the characterization. The family unit in this story is so beautifully portrayed that you can imagine it, right within your own family circle. The gregarious outgoing wife, the quiet, supportive husband giving in to his wife, three boys and now the daughters in law are coming.

So far the first two fitted in. They may not have been happy with lots of things but for the sake of getting along and not upsetting the unit, they just gave in. Enters Charlotte, the spoilt youngest daughter amongst three and who is definitely not going to give in to her mother in law. It is her way and no other way and her husband, poor fellow feels he is being torn apart!

I loved the way the story fell - a favourite daughter in law - though the parents tried to pretend it was not so, the very capable and clever daughter in law and then the spoilt one. The morale was a good one for all parents - we have our children's undivided love only for a very little time!!! then its time to let go and in this case Rachel had a hard time of letting go and allowing herself to think that she was no longer numero uno in her son's lives!!!!

This was a book I picked up in Melbourne library and so glad I did. I haven't read a Joanna Trollope for years and this was one I had not go to. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Picture Perfect by Kate Forster

The story set in fast paced Hollywood has leading actresses, directors, producers all of them. They all have hidden stories that they do not want unearthed. Some of them are rather gory, some so personal that they naturally feel that they would be so hurt in the process and some secrets would hurt others as well. The story told from several points of view gave the reader a very good glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous and also those who aspire to be rich and famous. You have to constantly strive to better, faster and more informed than the next man and that alone sounded exhausting.

Zoe and Maggie are friends from way past in this world where friends, true friends are rare. Now delicately balancing their friendship against the odds of new men in their lives as well as a new film to be directed and parts cast, they have to find a way to keep their friendship on a steady track.

A love story actually a couple of them, together with a secret kept hidden for over twenty years which is going to eventually come out (fortunately it all came together very well!), and the importance of having good friends, kept this an entertaining read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Harlequin (UK) Limited.