Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

This was my first read of Monica McInerney. Will not be my last. A book sent to me via Netgalley after I read a review of this one on a blog. I am so glad I got this one.

Set in the outback of rural Australia, all wide open spaces, paddocks and absolutely no people we have Angela English born and bred adapting beautifully to life in this corner of Australia, married to the love of her life and with four grown up children. Everything seems perfectly placid on the surface that is. Until everything blows up in everyone's face.

Angela has done a round robin letter each Christmas to all friends, relations, acquaintances and business colleagues. It outlines the usual happenings of the Gillespie family year around. This time around something happens to Angela.Without sugar coating she outlines the actual/factual happenings of the Gillespie clan. It ranges from the sordid to the wicked includes extra marital flings, supposed affairs with married men, whingeing adult children, strange son with an imaginary friend at 14 (should have outgrown that one!), the difficult aunt who always descends on them during Christmas. It goes on and on. Made for extremely interesting reading as long as it did not describe your family. We all have them but very few of us would be so honest as Angela in detailing them!!!! 

Due to an emergency, the email was left open on the computer and Angela's husband knowing how important this Christmas newsletter was for Angela sends it out on December 1st. When the trickle becomes a river of interest from everyone, Angela realises the cat is out of the bag. The family itself other than the Aunt is totally unaware of happenings and now it is Angela's turn to bell the cat and come clean.

Added to the convoluted happenings of the Gillespie family is added drama with accidents, mental fugue on the part of Angela, a scam in which Nick is duped all add to the "side" happenings in this family saga.

This was a humorous read. I liked the actual poking of fun at myself and mine very much in this book. Honest reading!

Thank you Penguin Group Berkeley for sending this through Netgalley. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Most Truly by Reina M. Williams

Most Truly (Love at Pemberley, #1)

Book One in the Love at Pemberley series, I won all three books from the author herself.

Colonel James Fitzwilliam has returned home after the war. He is lonely and knows that he should now settle down at home. His parents and Lady Catherine have ideas in this field and hope that a match will materialise between Anne and himself. He himself has no feelings other than that of a brother towards Anne. His own brother Alfred however has feelings for Anne but they do know that a battle would commence the moment they make their wishes known.

James did not envisage meeting Kitty Bennett, Lizzy's younger sister at Pemberley. She is making an extended stay at Pemberley as Lizzy is now pregnant with the couple's first child. Kitty is innocent, fresh and very appealing to James.

A very simple straight forward love story which was a pleasant interlude in between the heavier stories.  I also liked how the house Pemberley is so beautifully described alongside the gardens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

About Face by Carole Howard

About Face

Ruth has worked in the Peace Corps in Africa alongside her friend Vivian years ago. Now married and with a son she is working in the corporate world, the very antithesis of what her ideals were twenty years before.

A chance encounter with Vivian and her husband Carlos bring it all back with Carlos constantly hinting at what she has left behind and the loss of ideals of helping out the lesser privileged. Added to that is Jeremy at work who has taken over her division with his own ideas and more importantly his main view of ousting her out from her position in the company.

Working in the cosmetics industry is a high powered job. It is also a job which focuses on youth and the young and the wanting to look young. In a moment of revelation Ruth comes out with an idea which is revolutionary. A make up look which will suit the middle aged. Not trying to look younger. Just looking their age gracefully and beautifully. It does not initially go down well and Jeremy is trying to use this to bring down Ruth and then get her out of his office. 

Further plans in the offing materialise with Vivian and Ruth brainstorming and another successful business is born. 

The story with a backdrop of West Africa and present day Manhattan is more a story of the friendship between women and the ties that bind. Both husbands are just secondary to the story!
It also looks at middle age with a tongue in the cheek humour which is very likable.

This was a free download from Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff

WWII stories are always emotional. Always they seem to bring back memories not always of a good kind but the stories have to be told as they are so much a part of history. 

This is a very short story - a prequel to the novel The Winter Guest. 

Maria is recently married, finds out she is pregnant but is all alone. She does not fit in with her inlaws who seem to just tolerate her existence in their house. Her own home is just a few doors away but she is estranged from her father and now she feels that he is a traitor who betrays those in their village for personal gain. 

The problem of plain survival is uppermost in everyone's minds in this small village in rural Poland and finding a Jewish runaway is not an ideal situation for Maria who is herself bereft and alone. Befriending this girl and trying to help her in the face of her fathers betrayal shows the strength of Maria's character. 

I was very disappointed that the novel ended so abruptly as I do not know when I would get to The Winter Guest. This was a very good story as opening chapters.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

This weeks Mailbox!

Private Papers

This was from Open Library.


These are from Netgalley


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.


I am still in the part of rural Palestine and enjoying this simple family story very much. 

On another note my son has returned home after almost fifteen months. Nice to have him around. The house seems very full of hustle and bustle!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones (History fans - this is a must read)

The year is 1748 and the time is bad, very bad for women everywhere. 

Caridad is a former slave who accompanies her master to Sevilla in Spain from Cuba. En route he dies and fortunately gives the girl her freedom. A freedom she knows nothing about. She has no idea how to live as a "free" person. She does not even consider herself as a person. Not even a chattel. She does not consider that she is worth anything - an animal in her opinion is worth more than her. 

This story is about Caridad and how she eventually throws in her lot or rather her lot was thrown in with her with the gypsies of Sevilla. Her chance encounter with them changes her life for not just her but also for Melchor who pities the woman and takes her back to his village. Much to the amazement, disgust and anger of his fellow gypsies Melchor takes her under his wing not for any ulterior motives but out of simple human goodness. He himself cannot understand why he does this but it is one of those inexplicable happenings which change life for both of them and also for the clan from which Melchor comes.

Intertwined with these two characters we also have the very forceful character of Ana and Jose - Ana the daughter of Melchor who has a constant battle with her husband and divided loyalties of whom to choose - father or husband. Her daughter Melagros whose beauty and sensuousness is not a blessing but a curse eventually leading to her almost total destruction. 

Historically fascinating as it reveals a period of history in Europe and Spain in particular where the gypsies are reviled, persecuted and hunted for over 150 years. The sadness of the story is enormous. But, you cannot put this book down. I am not one for sad stories but this was historical sadness on an epic scale. 

The courage, boldness and pride of the gypsies may have been their own downfall because this is what caused outsiders to dislike them. Their inability to integrate and become part of the common populace was their major drawback and this drew the ire of the aristocracy and the Emperor at the time. His edicts were far reaching and inhuman. It made the aristocracy not just cruel, but sadistic as well. 

Another over riding feature of this era was the treatment of women. There was virtually no position for women anywhere and if you did find a father who was fond of his daughter, the fondness or love was governed by dictates of the time. Melchor was different for his times and this set him apart. No one born in present day times would hanker to be a woman in the 1700s, even if you were aristocratic or from the king's family. 

The book was a fabulous read for me. I found it unput downable!

Sent to me via Netgalley for an honest review and through its publishers Crown Publishing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twelfth Night at Longbourn by Maria Grace

Twelfth Night at Longbourn (Given Good Principles)

I won an Amazon gift card and this was my first purchase. I read about this book on Diary of an Eccentric and liked the review there.

Kitty is a bit of a whiner for me. She seems to be constantly whingeing about her fate after Lydia's infamous elopement. It has left her socially bereft. Her only friends seems to be the Lucas's and even here Maria pretends that she needs something urgently whenever she sees Kitty. Being offered a chance to go to Pemberley seems a god sent opportunity to just get away from the salacious gossip of the town and the nervous breakdown of her mother. Her father seems just indifferent. Only Lizzy could understand him and get him to smile.

Enroute to Pemberley with Miss Darcy and her new companion, Kitty encounters fresh problems. Miss Darcy is not compliant, polite in company and her companion rules that she is not fit to grace the august assemblies at Pemberley. Does this mean that Kitty goes back home? A fresh adventure awaits her with the Bingley's opportune arrival and Mr. Bingley offers to escort her along with his sister as chaperone back to Pemberley. The Bingleys have problems of their own with the behaviour of their sister Caroline so they have mutual stuff to grumble about!

Now it gets to the fairy tale part which was a bit too cloying for me. A pleasant read however. I like PP variations in whatever form. This was a good one and gave one of the hitherto ignored sisters a good airing. Why should Lizzy have all the fun?