Friday, June 24, 2016

The Girl who Came Back by Susan Lewis

This is every parent's worst nightmare. A friendship which goes wrong which turns into a revenge killing of the most brutal kind. On top of it all, the murderer gets away with it with just a tap on the wrist and three years in jail.

Daisy was bright, sparkly, in love with everyone and the apple of her parent's eye. Her friendship with Amelia was not a happy one but Daisy's temperament was such that she was ever willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the other party and let it go. In hindsight her parents did realise that they should have been firmer, more definite in her choice of friends but by then the worst damage was done.

The blight on Jules and her entire family and in fact the entire village was profound. That Amelia and her high handed father continued to live in the village and that Amelia decided to flaunt her freedom in Jules's face seemed to be the last straw.

How this murder unravels and how the effects of one act are so wide and startling are very well told in this story.

My first read of this author and I certainly hope I can track down all her other books.

I found the story fast paced and intense and enjoyed every minute of it, heavy and dark though it was.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK Cornerstone. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank

All Summer Long

My first read of this author and I am so glad I got to her books finally.

The story is reminiscent of a lot of older people - who want to get back to their roots and then find themselves perplexed that things are not quite what they expected. We have Olivia and Nick moving back to Charleston - he is delighted that after fourteen years he is coming back. This was a promise he extracted from his wife that they will return. She is not so taken up with the move though she does keep her reservations to herself. It is not her place of birth, she is an urban being and delightful though Charleston is, she has her doubts as to living permanently there.

Side by side with this story is one hidden from Nick. Olivia has overextended herself in business and is now on the verge of bankruptcy. Unless she gets new clients and new projects they are done. Living the lifestyle they do they need it fast.

Another aspect of the story is the very hi fi lifestyle of Maritza and Bob. A taste of this is tempting and then you begin to think that private jets, unlimited champagne and private yachts with the attendant trimmings are very attractive to have as a lifestyle.

The different strands of the story eventually mesh but they are individual stories all separate and interesting on their own. The core is the subject of relationships - how people manage them, how we need them and what we do to keep them going.

The descriptiveness was amazing - not just the country around you but the places and people who occupied the story. Characterization was marvellous and you could from the descriptions imagine how each person stood in the story and their contribution to it.

This book was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Living by Anjali Joseph

Two alternate lives - Claire working in a shoe factory in England and Arun working as a chappal maker (which is featured on the cover) in Kohalpur. He is just doing what his father and grandfather before him did. Both characters lead humdrum lives and both wonder what would have happened if things had worked out differently in their respective worlds.

I unfortunately did not understand that the book was portraying the two lives and the workings of the mind of the characters till the very end. The portrayal of daily life, the humdrum and the extraordinary were both depicted in detail.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Harper Collins UK 4th Estate.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

I initially thought this was going to be like a travel memoir (which I like) and in a setting which I adore but it turned out to be slightly different. At the same time it held my interest and I was always wanting to know what was going to happen next.

The story is fairly routine. A young couple living together for five years have got into a serious rut. With an idea of reviving their relationship, putting a spark into it more likely they or rather she thinks a holiday in the South of France in a beautiful gite would be ideal. What she does not account for is the landlord's wife with a roving eye. 54 year old Gloria and Nathan her partner who is bored out of his skull with their relationship and just waiting to leave.

What follows is sad for Emmy and Rupert who are left bewildered and in Rupert's case all alone with a guest house to run, guests coming in and going out all the time. Emmy steps in to help and finds that she likes the work, the people and the village. Throw in a dash of romance in the form of a gardener and a lawyer, beautiful scenery, idyllic countryside and we have a captivating story.

The other characters are also equally colorful and add a certain spice to the story. Emmy's parents, the other people in the village all add dimension. I loved the reading of this story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Bookouture. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh

Selena Cole a perfectly rational woman disappears for twenty hours. She leaves two very little children in a playground and disappears. She reappears none the worse for wear with no idea what happened to her during those hours.

A lawyer is found murdered with a stab wound to his neck on a lonely road. His car is missing and there are no clues as to who could have done this.

Fast forward to our investigative team who very early on clue on to the fact that the two are somehow connected. Selena claims to only know who the murdered lawyer is but his office turns up detailed literature on the Cole business of ransom and rescue. Selena and her late husband who died in a a bomb blast were the founders of a very successful highly risky business. Selena has now roped in her brother in law and sister as she finds herself too traumatized to take part in this delicate work.

Told in alternate stages of both investigations, the detail of police work and the fact that you can miss a vital clue which seems so insignificant in the greater part of things was very well told. Characterization of each person was also very well done.

An author I will be looking for in the future.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House (UK) Cornerstone. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Tea Planter's Bride by Janet Macleod Trotter

Sophie has only very vague memories of her mother and father. She knows she was born and brought up in India till the age of six and her parents died of dysentery. This is what she was told. She was brought up by her aunt who loved her dearly but now Sophie's life is at a crossworld.

The year is 1922 and Sophie and her beloved cousin are looking for love. Both of them find it in very different ways but strangely they do end up together back in India. Tilly not very happy to return but for Sophie it was like coming home. Having to get accustomed to marriage and two men who were not what they seemed to be like when they were in England is part of the difficulty. Tilly is now heavily pregnant but for Sophie there are many hidden facets to her husband which is discovering, and none of them are very pleasant to know.

At the same time there are cross currents despite Sophie being very much in love with her husband. Her attraction for the forester Raafi is very strong and one she feels she has to fight against as it is morally not right to even feel like this. Tilly is trying to cope with a new born on the other side and also deal with her husband's aversion to the Robson's who have looked after Tilly so very well all this time. Secrets on her husband's side also disturb Tilly who is also questioning many aspects of her husband's solitary life in India.

So many strands coming together, keep the story alive as you know that something different but connected to either Sophie or Tilly is going to turn up on every page. How they all inter-connect and bring closure to several issues in Sophie's life particularly is very descriptively told.

Again like her previous book, the characterization is spot on and adds so much dimension to the story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.'

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Last Thousand by Jeffrey E. Stern

Marefat is a school but not just a school. It is a school under siege as it is in Afghanistan which on the whole views education with a rather wary eye. Boys and girls being educated together is bad enough but these children are not learning by rote. That is what is unusual for Afghanistan. They are being taught to think for themselves, to question, not to accept as truth what is being told. The man behind the venture is a bold soul and he faces many hazards in first setting up the school and then maintaining it.

Behind the school is the concept of persecution of a minority. The Hazaras are looked on with suspicion, have been for decades. They look different from the others in Afghan and they have always been at the butt end for everything and anything that has gone wrong. The situation continues todate and it was this marginalization that drove Aziz to start this school.

The story told from the point of view of different characters adds to the roundness of the story telling.
From Aziz its founder to the mother of five who knows that despite whatever odds she faces, she must send her children to school and then also get herself educated to some degree, and to the many girls and boys who get emancipated as a result of their education.

This was an eye opener - the extent to which discrimination, marginalization and lack of education exists today.

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