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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

We All Fall Down by Cynthia Clark

Bea and her brother Sebastian, Helen, Sandra and John live with a foster mother as all of them come from families which have broken up for one reason or another. The misery that Miriam imposes on them is unimaginable and painful, degrading and horrible.  The children however for one reason only did not complain to the authorities though they had ample opportunities to do so. Just because they did not want to be separated and they thought that the situation could be worse.

A freak accident which causes the death of Sebastian, paralyses Miriam sets them all free of her clutches in different ways. Some live in very nice homes after this, some dont.  The driver of the truck Ronnie Moss shaken and drunk after the accident runs away to the Caribbean and is forgotton by the children, but not by the authorities.

Decades later, all grown up getting on with their lives, the bombshell that the truck driver has been found, is being sent back to England to trial and that Miriam may regain her memory of the incident is a ticking bomb for all of them. During the last few months of their stay with their foster carer, they came up with the brilliant idea of slowly poisoning Miriam with rat poison in order to weaken her and make her unable to physically abuse them the way she did. Will this secret hidden for so many years now come out and ruin all their lives.

Once again anxious, worried and on edge the four of them come together to face this new calamity in their lives and how to handle the situation carefully, not bringing any of them into suspicion with the authorities who have started interrogating each of them individually about their stay with Miriam.

The story highlights how easy it is for abuse to be in a system and for it not to be noticed by either teachers or fellow students or friends. All of them were severely underweight, all of them carried bruises and no one was any the wiser as to what was happening.

It was a sad story but with redemption at the end.

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta

The town's name alone is entrancing. Mark has been left a house by his aunt  in her will. She is someone whom he hardly knew, but now he wished he had taken the time to know her better. She did not seem to want to keep in touch and was always serving in remote areas of the world as a doctor.
Coming to her house and slowly unravelling the secrets of her life is more than what he bargained for.

Mark did not even know that she ran a bed and breakfast and having to face upto unexpected guests as well as the rituals involved in the Indian culture following a death was a little hard for him to follow. Getting more and more involved in the personal lives and calamities of the guests was something he never envisaged and he does not know how to get out of it and go back to the peaceful life he led before.

Finding out that even total strangers can be connected to one another seems very strange, and when it seems that some of it connects back to him it is even more difficult to logically explain. Going with the flow Mark discovers a part of him that was hitherto unknown!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, by Celestial Eye Press this was a very unusual read.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Duke's Agent by Rebecca Jenkins

I needed a change of pace from the thrillers and murder mysteries that I had heaped on my Kindle. Then I ended with this.

Set in 1811 in the town of Woolbridge Jarrett is looking for some peace and quiet and to act as the Agent for the Duke of Penrith. He has returned from a turbulent period of service and expects the countryside to be peaceful and kind to him. Anything but. Uncovering a network of crimes and being made to be the scapegoat for a murder on a property nearby, kept in jail by the local Magistrate is not what was expected in this very countryside area.

One death follows another and this time around the people want blood. It is upto him to clear his name and also sort out the mess that is apparent alive and kicking in this sleepy town.

A Regency era mystery this was not lacking in gore and violence! A very nice change from modern mystery murders though.

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

In the Company of Like-Minded Women by Elaine Russell

1901 Colorado. It was a very tough time for women. Unlike previously, women were more aware of the advantages of having the vote, of being independent, of owning your own property. Everyone did not want to be subservient to the whims and fancies of their husbands. Three sisters finding their way in different paths.

One recently widowed, a fully qualified medical doctor not being recognised as a caring doctor and getting short shrift from male colleagues. Trying to make ends meet and look after her two children at the same time. Mildred who was a kind soul, now grumpy and almost following their mother's rigid, hateful attitudes and then the youngest who has fallen in love and whose union is being frowned on and even denied just because her mother wants someone to sit with her whilst she gets old.

A chance visit to a sister's home with an idea of being a change and to recuperate after an illness gives the sisters the opening and the chance to breathe again and take a decision about their lives.
That Mildred changes is the biggest happiness in this book even more than the younger one's success in finding love!

Set amongst the fight for universal suffrage, a women's movement that was courageous and strong and a bid for independence for women made this a very interesting read.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Two parallel stories that intermingle at the end beautifully.

James is young, street smart, working on a market stall with his father. He is far thinking and with the entire support of his clan who sees the potential in him from the very beginning, he is groomed for much bigger things. Proving himself to both his Uncle and his family his world begins to involve the aristocracy and the world they live in.

On the other side we have Alexis, a very different young woman to the women of her age. She has a strong business acumen, is her father's heir and has sworn off marriage. Meeting Sebastian, the father of her friend and being bowled over by him despite the age difference, Alexis is blissfully happy until the untimely and savage unexpected death of Sebastian blows her world away.

How the two stories come together is the story of this book. At times too simplistic, it is however something that we all like to read and enjoy - a happy ending despite villains, treachery, back stabbing, thievery, ungrateful relations. Great read.

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

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Spitfire Girl by Fenella J. Miller

Set just before the outbreak of WWII, with a rural background a spirited Ellie is definitely not a run of the mill girl of the times. With hardly any education, an indifferent cold mother, a father cowed down by too many quarrels at home, Ellie is able to carve herself a niche in the world she loves.

Flying a plane, tutoring others how to fly is not an occupation commonly found even today but Ellie tries to balance it all with a mother who is always sniping at her, trying her best to make a lady out of Ellie. When the disgruntled woman leaves her home without a word to any of her children, Ellie is able to be free and be happy. So is her father.  However,  with the outbreak of the war they know that their flying school has only got a limited time before its activities are stopped.

At the same time, a chance encounter with Jack brings another dimension to all their lives and another is added when a break in reveals that they have been hiding a letter which is detrimental to many in the top echelons in their country, including Ellie's grandfather.  Revealing that he is a fascist is not going to be good for any of them and Ellie worries for her brother's futures if the matter comes to light.

Taking us through the outbreak of WWII and Ellie joining the WAAF first as a radar officer and then going on to aviation, the field she loves is this story along with a simple love story which is very typical of Ellie herself.

Very pleasant reading. \

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

Friday, November 30, 2018

An Irish Country Cottage by Patrick Taylor

Ballybucklebo - even the name is slightly fantastical and brings to mind a quirky, eccentric vibe.

The year is coming to an end and the characters in this Irish village are facing tumult on several sides.
A fire in a cottage has put a family out of their home and the inhabitants of this village from the manor to the humble thatcher come forward to give their support in getting the family on its feet.
Then we have the strong division between the Protestant and Catholic faith. Not just division, but feelings of no common ground, very much understood by me as we face these divisions on a daily basis here.

Intermingled with the stories of just everyday life of doctors in a rural practice are the above underlying tensions. Add to this the subject of infertility,  discussed in depth here and how it eats into a couple's otherwise blissful life and how it can erode a relationship so badly that only strength of will and character are enough to face this heart breaking issue head on.

So many subjects were discussed in such great detail, especially the religious divide and the brutality and viciousness of its hatred in Ireland that it was an eye opener for me in any case. On top of that the fertility issue, coupled with great discussions on the forbidden subject of contraception in a Catholic region for me was the best part of the book, over riding the actual story that was the book.

Beautifully written, very simplistic in its style, very evocative this was a great read.

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