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Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Winemakers by Jan Moran

The year is 1956 and Caterina is facing a cross roads in her life. Her mother Ava is a self made woman who has single handedly managed a vineyard Ava's life was a struggle from the time she got married. Luca was a villain and after a very rocky start they arrived in California and she ditched him hoping that it was the last she would see of him. By 1956 she was an established business woman respected by all the men who ran vineyards in this part of the world. Her world and Caterina's too was about to collapse.

An unexpected legacy of a house in Italy came at a very propitious time for Caterina. She was now a mother of a baby girl - an illegitimate pregnancy and this was not something that 1956 America was willing to accept. Forced against her will to consider adoption, Caterina fought against it and knowing what her mother's attitude would be (and it was) Caterina decided to go to Italy to make a life for herself there along with her baby daughter.

Unraveling secrets of both Ava and Luca's past was a revelation to Caterina coupled with the added complication of Marisa's father's parentage. The story was a complicated and ugly one and not one that had died down despite the fact that decades had gone by.

Told in two time frames - the mother and daughter - both reaching the end of the story eventually was very well told. The background to the wine industry in Italy and California were dealt with as well as the stories of the families from each era. Richly embellished the story was a family saga despite tragedy, and death highlighted with happiness, love and joy. The survival of the human spirit despite and against all odds is once again a highlight of the story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of St Martin's Press.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Keep you close by Lucie Whitehouse

Marianne was an artist. She was temperamental as well but when her body is found it is ruled as suicide. She has thrown herself off the top floor of her  house and it looks like an open and shut verdict. Her good friend however is skeptical and suspicious. Marianne was terrified of heights and she cannot envision how she got herself to the very edge of the balcony to throw herself over.

Rowan however has one problem. Whom can she entrust with her suspicions. There are many people around who all seem very helpful, very sympathetic but most of them have their own agendas and now with Marianne dead they want a share of her money as well.

Delving into Marianne's life Rowan begins to realise that there are many things she did not know at all. Marianne and Rowan have been estranged for a long time and during this period things have changed. There are lots of unanswered questions and it may be that something that Marianne did herself turned back on her and caused her death.

A psychological thriller with elements of romance as well.

Well told and keeping one in suspense.

This was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. Many thanks.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

White Collar Girl by Renee Rosen

White Collar Girl

Jordan Walsh wanted to prove to the world and especially to her father that she could be as good a reporter as him, her brother and her grandfather. What she did not take into account was that she was a girl and in the opinion of the newspapermen whom she worked for, she was good for the society and the women's columns and that was it.

Jordan did not take things lying down and in the process she antagonized a good many of the men she worked with. They were basically jealous of her spunk, her appeal and her innate sense of digging out a story and when she did, they could not stomach her success. The fact that she did not get any encouragement or support from her family was extremely difficult to digest, especially from her mother who seemed to live and drift in another world. Jordan had lost her brother and with his death her mother and father seemed to be living in a cocoon excluding everyone including Jordan.

The story of Jordan and her success in this tough male dominated field was a very good story. Characterizations were spot on and the story lines were excellent.

The book was sent to me by Edelweiss. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown

I thought the cover was rather fantastic and this was further emphasized when I read the story. The story also appealed very much to me as an older reader as it further emphasized the point that it is never too late to re-start your life (especially to uproot yourself) into completely new surroundings, meet up with physical challenges which seem daunting and also in the process maybe find a new interest!

Lisa Trumperton stumbles upon a run down countryside house, way out of Melbourne and its urban surroundings. The manor belonged to their grandfather but it seems to contain a mystery that no one wants to talk about. They seem to edge away when the conversation comes to this house and it has remained forgotton and unloved till Lisa decides to take it in hand.

Moving from the physical obstacles to the mental ones of being a newcomer in a small country town Lisa tries hard to assimilate and blend. She does not of course. She has to be judged on her own qualifications of being Lisa Trumperton and that is a hard image to live by.

The twists and turns of this simple story are nicely detailed. The story line was good and took one in. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Highland Lass by Rosemary Gemmell

Eiludh is back in Scotland after the death of her mother, trying to unravel the mystery of her birth and who her father might be.

Told as two separate stories linked by history in two different time frames the story of Eiludh and her mother against the backdrop of older and newer Scotland was an interesting read. The problems that any one faces coming back to an environment after twenty odd years is always myriad. Eiludh was only born in Scotland but was brought up in America and she has to adapt to Scottish ways as  a young woman and this was very well told.

The setting was picturesque and descriptive and I did enjoy the read.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

The Admissions

It seems like a perfect family - three kids each one good at something, father and mother hard working a Californian lifestyle. Hidden agendas about in every family and the Hawthorne's are not exempt.

From the time Angela was a toddler it was affirmed and written in blood that she would get into Harvard. How, why and whether the mental, emotional and physical input necessary to achieve that goal was what Angela wanted was not taken into account. How it would affect her siblings and the balance in the family was also never taken into account.

The story revolves around her and the other two siblings, all caught in the rat race of trying to excel. In the midst of all this unraveling the father's past history is also slowly unraveling and it is rather unsavoury. To top it all mother has her own share of secrets and all this is told in a modern family saga, emotionally and satisfying to the reader.

All of us are guilty of some of the things detailed in the story and it is good to think over what we read and see whether there are lessons to be learnt!

Characterization was excellent and the story unraveled slowly but surely to its end.

The book was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The story based on a real life story of a heroine in World War II is told in alternate voices of different women.

Caroline Ferriday working at the French consulate in New York has a life which is varied, full and she is also on the verge of a new love. On the other side of the world Kasia is facing the biggest threat of her life - Hitler is about to start his invasion and Poland is about to be swallowed by him. Kasia herself along with her mother and others are going to be sent to Ravensbruck the only camp that Hitler set up for women exclusively. There she will be subject to the most inhuman treatment that could be imagined.

How the lives of Caroline and Kasia mesh and how both women survive this horrible period in their lives is this story. Crossing continents, involving several people all key to this story this was a book I wanted to read in one go but couldn't. It was too emotional and too heart breaking and I took it in stages.

One has to read this to see the depths of depravity that the human mind could go to and how unearthly it was to read about it. The frightening part of the story is that it reminded (me anyway) that it happened before and is happening even now and no one has obviously learnt anything from past mistakes.

The book was sent to me Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Random House Publishing Group Ballantine.