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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Secrets we Keep by Mia Hayes




Jason and Elizabeth have escaped the great city life for suburbia. On the surface it seems it is for a quieter pace of life, or maybe to give their sons a home town feel absent in big cities. Both of them are harbouring secrets though - if it gets out it could put paid to their idyllic lifestyle which they seem to have.

Seem to have is the operative word because this is keeping up with the Joneses big time. Elizabeth wants or rather needs to be in the big league of this small town. Being a Periphery Girl is not enough. She has to be in the thick of things. Having a bi polar disorder and trying to balance being the king pin is not easy and it is beginning to take its toll. The partying, the constant drinking does not seem to help either. Jason starts out as being a supportive husband. He was the initial cause for Elizabeth's collapse, but halfway through you begin to question his actions. I even began to question Elizabeth's therapist, whether she and Jason were in cahoots!

An anonymous blog dislodges an avalanche of secret information - from affairs both past and present, financial situations and family secrets. Who is this blogger and each post brings about more and more disasters in the lives of Waterford residents. Life in the suburbs and being in your thirties is not easy anymore. Its very uncomfortable and even reading about it, put me on edge.

Small town petty jealousies were here amplified to the point that it seemed as if people needed to be vicious and destructive and to see people brought down.

For me personally it all sounded far fetched but then I come from an Asian setting where all this sounds like Dynasty amplified but then the story sounds like this is quite normal for rich families in America! 

Very entertaining reading and a good read (though I do have my reservations on the characters!!!)

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lost Children by Theresa Talbot



The first in a series involving journalist Oonagh O'Neil and detective Davies this was a very emotional read. I had read about the Magdalene homes and laundries and thought this was a horrific way for the Church to behave. There are no excuses when it is said it was symptomatic of their times. Compassion or sympathy as a human being was never part of these places and this story revolves around the children who were born, forcibly adopted and lost forever.

Oonagh knows that something is not quite right when Father Watson collapses on the altar of his church. A cranky priest with whom she has had run ins before, Oonagh is perturbed because she was to have an interview with him on the day he died and she just has an instinct that he was about to go out on a big reveal. Was his death a cover up. When attacks escalate and Oonagh herself is a victim narrowly escaping death the Inspector does know that things are not what they seem. Having to tackle an influential church is a daunting task and one that could get him buried as well.

The story tracks girls in general and one in particular - and the ramifications and trauma to the mind decades later. Unraveling it so that justice of some kind could be obtained for even one woman and some peace of mind is Oonagh's own aim. When her own convoluted love life gets in the way, it adds to the emotional roller coaster she is on.

Brilliant novel.

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Hatmaker's Secret by Jill Treseder




This family story started with just the present generations around. Grandparents, parents, the grown up children and their toddlers. It ended up going back several generations across countries and oceans to solve a puzzle which seemed insurmountable.

Kate and David are expecting their second child. The marriage is already tenuous and Kate hopes that with the birth of this baby things will settle down and they can make a go of their marriage. She did not account for her daughter Flora being born biracial to parents who were white. Davids skepticism as to Flora's origins and the general questions being asked around did not help either. It also did not help when Kate appealed to her mother Vanessa for help, her mother more or less ignored her cry for help in any way. Vanessa was nervous around her mother Thea, now in a stage of dementia and did not want to rock the boat in anyway. That she preferred to be deaf and dumb and not be supportive of Kate was a terrible flaw in her personality.

Thea's past was a secret. Kate knew that Thea was the key to unlocking Flora's antecedents. When Thea met her great grand daughter for the first time she threw the baby away almost causing a major accident. She turned vituperative and vicious but still Vanessa and Ted (Thea's husband) were not willing to find out anything further. It is with Thea's death that Kate persuades Vanessa whilst clearing the debris of Thea's house to seek clues as to what actually was their family history.

The story mainly of Thea's past, difficult and complicated and her present life far removed from what it was unravels the difficulties of being different in a country only used to one kind of people. Not that things have changed very much even today where racism thrives in every country in one form or another.

This was an intriguing story, with especially good characterization of women in very difficult situations in life.

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Manton Rempville Murders by Julian Worker



A 700 year old monastery. a couple of snooty aristocrats, a whole bunch of hangers on, shady characters galore, and we have Bingo our retriever whose job it is to find dead bodies. We have a detective as well. Seems a plodder but that is just a facade.

A lot of false clues and a lot of trivia seem to mask the murder. To get to the basics Knowles has to dig deep. Nothing is as it seems (as is very usual for mystery murders) but we get there eventually very nicely.

A simply mystery murder/s solved very well and descriptively told.

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden




Charlie and Waverley are twin sisters who have grown apart. Orphaned at a young age and brought up by a loving Aunt they have drifted but come together for the funeral of their beloved Aunt.

Waverley seems to have it all. A cooking show almost at the top of her game, a loving husband, a very comfortable home. Charlie works for a NGO amongst women in Eastern Europe. She was swindled of her inheritance by a co-worker, she has been raped but all this trauma is hidden.
When she makes an offer of being a surrogate for Waverley who has suffered six miscarriages and is longing for a child of her own they both are shocked - Charlie who was never maternal wonders what made her offer and Waverley is of course over the moon.

Complications set in when Charlie gets back to her routine job and Waverley continues with her life at home. Charlie's inadvertent involvement in a human smuggling ring puts Charlie in danger and when Waverley unexpectedly pays a visit they are both kidnapped but it seems that it is not Charlie who is the target. The kidnappers want Waverley with her TV connections to highlight Albania and the plight of Albanians.

Taking twists and turns (some a bit improbable) the story moves to Charlie having a baby and Waverley facing a predicament of having two children now to choose when an unexpected bonus in the form of a four year old lands at her feet!

The children bring the two sisters close to each other in a way nothing ever can. The story of family set in two locations is descriptive and interesting. The contrast in the two characters was also nicely fitted into the story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Pretty Little Things by T.M.E. Walsh



DCI Claire is not going to have it easy with this one. Six teenage girls are missing. The bodies are not found and when four are found in one area next to each other, it seems the killer is almost egging them on to try to find him. Other than the fact that they are local girls, there seems to be no common link. Typical teenagers confronting authority both society and at home a couple of them had threatened to run away and had done so previously. What had made them accept a lift on a lonely road after explicit instructions had been given not to hitch hike. Did they know their kidnapper and murderer.

Charlotte has just this one child. She is determined to keep Elle safe. Elle is not happy with the situation at all and when her birthday party is cancelled after the four bodies are found she is furious. The story upto this point was the usual thriller/mystery/murder sequel. Detectives trying to piece together fragmented stories, no CCTV footage so the killer seemed to be aware of them, no finger prints, and a community tense and in turmoil.

Midway suspects emerge. As a reader you go through the whole gamut of obvious people around - John who is just separated from his wife, making a play for Charlotte, then there is Iain in whose garage a toolbox is discovered with keepsakes from each girl who was murdered. At this point it looked very bleak for Iain but the end is not in sight for the detectives who are fearful when another woman this time goes missing. A woman who has harassed Charlotte over and over again even in public. The fact that it is a older person kidnapped makes detectives fear that the killer is now spiralling out of control.

The end is twisted, unexpected and I guess no single reader has guessed it until now! I doubt any reader will.

An absolute page turner.

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

All That's Left Of Me by Janis Thomas



This was very twisty! there is no way I can describe the way the book went. You had to be very clever to pull this off and Janis Thomas does it very well. I wouldn't want to read many books like this as it does havoc with your mind!

Emma Davis is dissatisfied. With her marriage, with her job and generally with everything. She also does not know and hasn't the courage to start anew with a new job or even to admonish Colin her husband who seems so laid back that anyone would give him a kick in the pants.

Into this scenario we have Emma wishing the way we all do. That something could happen differently, or that a person could change, or just disappear and one by one these things happen. Emma has a son with severe cerebral palsy and I did wonder very early in the book why wouldnt she wish for her son to be well rather than just wishing this one away, or that situation to go away. Once granted it cannot be undone and this becomes Emma's downward spiral once she wishes her son whole and healthy again.

The entire book tests your powers of credibility. Time travel was one genre which took some getting used to, this is entirely different. It is like a separate parallel universe running in different mode, so what happens to the mode that existed before. Just not the individual but everyone in that universe changes to fit the new scenario. It was difficult to digest, but very easy for me to read.

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