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Monday, July 15, 2019

The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs

Very detailed and with accurate historical information of the life and work of Harriet Tubman who worked tirelessly to free slaves.

In this story, we get to know much more about Harriet than is generally known. Due to the generally secret nature of the operation, the fact that she was a slave and because she was female, her role has generally not been highlighted but rather downplayed which is totally unfair because she played the greatest role in freeing 750 slaves which is huge for the time.

Meticulous detail to history was part of the story and will endear history fans for this fact alone.

My knowledge of American history is scant, almost non existent so this was very good reading for me.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane by Dee MacDonald

Tess and Orla are good friends, blunt to each other but honest - there is a no holds barred conversations going on between the two all the time. I thought it was a bit too blunt but it worked very well for them both.

Now in their sixties, both are looking for love in almost any place possible. Their pursuit of happiness was a bit forced but both were determined to get it by any means. Companionship, a physical relationship were both goals for both of them and the story of how they achieved it is this story.

I was not very enamoured by the whole process but then I think I am prejudiced! The story was light, funny in parts, a farcical in parts.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Only Charlotte by Rosemary Poole Carter

Lenore James is a good natured woman. She has outlived three husbands, is financially independent, fair and non judgemental and worried over her brother Gilbert. He has tragically lost his wife and child and now seems enamoured by the young woman Charlotte Eden. Herself married with two children and whose husband is very much part of New Orleans society.

The story revolves around Charlotte and her supposed death under mysterious circumstances whilst at a weekend with mutual friends (of her husband). Gilbert as the doctor was brought in to take the body away and prepare it for burial. That the husband did not accompany the doctor gave us the first inclination that things were not quite what they seemed and when Charlotte is found to be alive and has to be given some kind of place to recover apart from her husband and children, this is where the actual story unravels.

New Orleans society was lax and amongst this circle of society rather immoral. The Judge who overlooked all legal matters of the area was corrupt so that there was no way that Gilbert could bring about a case against Charlotte's husband. It was a very cliquey society a sort of old boys network which worked well for them against all outsiders.

The story was slow paced but descriptive of the society in which Lenore and Gilbert lived and was interesting for its depiction of New Orleans society from their viewpoint.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of TOP Publishers. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Brighton Guest House Girls by Lesley Eames

It must have been so difficult to be intelligent and street smart for women in the early part of the century.  They were expected to conform, not to argue, to be supported by a plethora of parents, brothers, husbands and just expected to look helpless and pretty.

For someone like Thea who saw through her stepfather's wiles and was disenchanted with his drunken ways life was hard. Not only did he run through all the money that was available, he sold everything her mother possessed to fuel his drinking habit. When he died, his son turned up on Thea's doorstep with a will which showed that her mother had written everything to her husband, and her husband had written everything to his son. His son wanted Thea out of the house asap.

Thea knew that either the will was forged or that signatures were forged or witnesses were coerced. She did not know where to start though.

In a parallel zone we have Anna, single and pregnant  her partner lost at sea off the coast of Brazil and now she has been thrown out of her home. We have Daisy who wants to see the outside world a bit before returning to the loving embrace of her father. How these three women meet, give each other the support each one needs and form a bond over riding class particularly and becoming good friends is this story.

The story was a charming one of the support people can be for each other, and how greed for material wealth over rides morals or ethics.
A simple story of all's well that ends well but put together very well.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Head of Zeus.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Roman Count Down by David P Wagner

The story is a simple one. One of the upper class Counts has been found supposedly murdered just outside his residence. The police do not find any enemies or suspects as such. They are under pressure from the Countess as well to find out how and why her husband is murdered. That she was a strange bird is another part of the story.  Enter Rick who has decided to come to Rome and live there, uprooting himself from his American lifestyle to adapt to his Italian roots. His uncle is the Detective on the case and he ropes Rick in to help.

I was nonplussed how a civilian could be officially roped into an investigation but that is beside the point. The story reads more like a travelogue on Rome with special emphasis on food. Food in restaurants, food in cafes, food in hole in the wall grocers (delicious, fabulous) and traveling in and out through Rome brought the city to life in this book.

I like travel in every form so this was a lovely choice for me. I enjoyed the forays that Rick made into the by ways of Rome and how he extricated himself from them as well. You got a view of Rome from the expat as well as from the local.

Very nice reading (the murder was solved at the end) so two birds with one stone!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

The past is reaching out to both Nelson and Ruth - in ways that are strange as the author of the previous missives is now long dead. Who could be knowing the style of writing, the cryptic poetry and the messages it conveys other than Erik himself and they both know he is dead.

When the body of a little girl is found within a henge (a circle of stone) and when carbon dating proves that it is of recent origin the detectives get their cold cases together to find out who would fit the profile.  Apart from solving the case of the missing Margaret, there are many threads from previous cases which link all the characters together. From Michelle Nelson's wife who is about to give birth and does not know whether it is her husband's or her lover's child she is expecting to Ruth who finds it bitter sweet because Nelson is the father of her Katie. So much of inner tension in the story underlying the professional relationships which have to be maintained at all costs and impersonally, if the case is to be solved.

This was a different take on a mystery murder story. The detectives themselves had a convoluted history and apart from the main two, several others were also involved in the story. It added a different structure to the story.

Very much of a page turner in a different style this was a very good read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

All the Missing Pieces by Juanita Tischendorf

An extremely rich powerful family in New York with two children. The boy brought up to inherit the fortunes of Coral Ridge almost totally owned and powered by this family. The girl Katrina wayward from her days as a teenager ends up in a marriage disapproved by her parents, disowned by them and she dies and then her husband leaving behind two children.

The story of the two children Tyler and to a lesser extent Alyssa brought to the Engelman household and held in disdain and dislike by both their aunt and uncle and terrorised by their cousin Barstow. That a family could treat their own with such dislike, such coldness which was the worse form of cruelty and overlook the ill treatment of the children by their own son was harsh. It also continued till adulthood and finally led to the rape of Alyssa and the utter humiliation of Tyler.

The story gets more and more twisted as it went along - with the older Engelman's becoming lonely, alienated from the community and the end is surprising.

Terrible families, dysfunctional relationships, harsh living all found in one story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of J. Tischendorf Services.