Saturday, April 25, 2015

Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova

As usual I am not able to paste the image of this book which is a pity. My second read from this author the book held me in its thrall throughout. Joe the macho, father figure, stalwart and strong struck down with Huntington's disease in his mid forties. The diagnosis is very bleak. A neurological disease its progress is relentless ending in death. The side effects are not told - the effect on family, the loss of a career at the best part of your life, the loss of dreams for all you planned to do and the worst case scenario that you may hand over this gene to your children who have a fifty fifty chance of inheriting the disease. The story takes us from the initial onset of Joe's disease and the disbelief and shock of both Joe and Rosie to its gradual worsening and the actual physical deterioration which happens. The horror of his eldest son being diagnosed with the gene specially since his wife has just become pregnant adds to the emotional stress of the family. Meghan, the elder daughter, a dancer with the Boston Ballet is also diagnosed with the gene and Katie is left undecided whether she wants to know or not specially as she is at a rather mixed up point in their lives. Patrick is the other son who does not want to know. The manner of the handling of each character each different - one loud in their misery, the other introverted, Rosie trying to keep the family together And herself not knowing how to go about this. Each one wanting to be a support for their father in their own way, however they do not know how to be a support to each other though they are all feeling each other's pain. A story of growing up fast in the face of misfortune, family bonds and the power of enduring love very beautifully told. The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Valley, Threshold Pocket Books.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Sophie unconsciously does know her marriage is in the doldrums but it still comes as a shock when her husband lays down new ground rules. Susie her old friend has a bungalow in Nantucket and she thinks a separation will allow her to think clearly, what has to be done. Unknown to Susie, her cousin has given the house to a friend of his - Trevor and his son. Trevor and the boy are trying to come to grips with their life after the tragic loss of Trevor's wife and Leo's mother.

With no contracts to bind them both parties decide to live together and the arrangement seems to be working very well. What no one envisaged would be the attraction that develops between Sophie and Trevor.

This is a simple story of the break up of a marriage and finding love once again. Very simply told, almost too simple it would seem at times.

This was a book kindly sent to me by Edelweiss.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs, #11)

This was a download from Edelweiss and aren't I so very very glad I got this.

Set in Gibralter at a time of major conflict - Germans, Americans, the British, the Italians and the Spaniards are all at war with each other. Maisie Dobbs is on her way back home, but emotionally dead. She has lost her husband in a tragic aviation accident and also lost her baby when she was almost full term. She feels she cannot face her family as well as James's family back home and decides to take a break in Gibralter to gather herself, her thoughts and her physical self.

Discovering a body of a photographer was the impetus Maisie needed to get working again. Using all her skills as a private investigator, she puts together pieces of a puzzle which everyone else including Scotland Yard is desperate to cover up. Dealing with the different communities in Gibralter and trying to fathom as to what actually happened is the best part of the story. Apart from the murder and the solving of it, the historical details as to what happened in Gibralter and the various characters who manipulated situations to suit their own countries is very well told.

I liked the detail in this story though for some it may detract from the actual story which is the murder and its investigation. I felt the details added the depth to the background as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bless Me Father by Neil Boyd

The story was so full of droll humor that I kept smiling throughout my read. It would help to be Catholic to understand fully the nuances the announcements made by our senior Father. I am and I was still surprised by some of the stuff.

Father Neil is in his first pastoral appointment. Mild mannered and soft spoken he is the ideal foil to our gruff but crafty and cunning Father Duddleswell who knows exactly how to handle humans - and in this case a village of Irish immigrants. Known for their traditions and beliefs, Father Duddleswell  knows what buttons to push, when to speak out and when to remain perfectly quiet. He never crosses the line, does not put a step out of line but still comes out tops whilst never bending the rules.

This was a really good read for anyone to understand how to handle people successfully. Father Duddleswell does it simply and efficiently showing the green Father Neil how it's done. This book should be good for HR specialists. They may get quite a few pointers from him!

The book was sent to me by Netgallley courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media many thank

Friday, April 17, 2015

Whylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

The image of the book posts initially and then disappears!

Sent to me by Netgalley - Open Road Integrated Media.

Unusual setting and genre (for me).  Set in the 1970s a folk music/rock band of sorts has had its first hit and their manager Tom, knows that they have the capacity and the talent to pull in another great hit.  The whole group of artistes are sent to Wylding Hall, a crumbling pile but with the isolation required for them to concentrate on their work.  A motley group of youngsters complete with hash, very little money somehow make it work, but underlying it all is the strange sense of unease that there is something amiss with the Hall. The less sensitive ones brush it off but for some it is a danger that they will be pulled into a scheme they know nothing about, and still less how to handle it.

Told in individual points of view from both inside and outside Whylding Hall, the story keeps you on edge. I didn't know till the very end the outcome. I thought there would be a neat explanation. There wasn't.

Interestingly told from the point if music in the 70s and then the touch of the "other world" added a touch of both magic and mystery.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wish You Were Here by Catherine Alliott

A chance encounter and help given by a her doctor husband is returned ten fold. A holiday in a luxurious chateau in the South of France, all amenities provided not just for Flora and her family but to the extended family as well.

The holiday will be the luxury that the family needs to unwind but so many unexpected, not completely happy surprises keep cropping up. Flora's very placid husband seems to fall head over heels in love with their beautiful operatic singer benefactress, Flora herself is taken aback when her old boyfriend to whom she was engaged turns up on the arm of her sister in law, the two teenage daughters also turn up with their boyfriends and don't seem to have any inhibitions about sharing rooms to the dismay of their mother, and to top it all Flora's mother turns up with the charming John Piere. No one seems to have a care in the world but the tension keeps rising and you do know a blow out is inevitable.

How things settle - both the dramatic (child custody battles and DNA), and the more prosaic (change of career) all adding to the harmony of the family and peace reigning all around. A fun family story with the usual and unusual dynamics of family life.

The book was sent to me by Netgallley courtesy of Penguin UK Michael Joseph.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday for this week has been delightful.  One of the bloggers gave me a tip regarding free downloads of Jane Austen's variations and spin offs and I have been  able to get some very nice reads.

Beyond Downton Abbey Volume I

May's Grand Tour - A Regency Romance

Mrs Dashwood Returns - A continuation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility

A Wintter Wrong by Elizabeth Ann West

I've already finished the Mrs Dashwood book. Enjoyed the romance of a fifty year old!

Henrietta Who? Catherine Aird

The Five Towns  Leslie Tonner

Even in Darkness Barbara Stark-Nemon

These three are courtesy of Netgalley.

In Sri Lanka, we are embarking on one of the biggest holidays for the country. The old year ends today and the New Year dawns tomorrow, not at dawn but at around 2.40 in the afternoon which is the auspicious time. The entire period is governed by times, time to light the fire, time to start cooking, time to eat and a time you do absolutely nothing other than read, meditate or go to temple. A time of much enjoyment in the country, families get together and traditionally you go back to your village. Cities are empty, transport systems are overloaded, shopping is in full swing and everyone has a good time.

Happy New Year to all.