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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

One Way To Venice by Jane Aiken Hodge

Five years ago Julia was in love and expecting a child. Living in an overpoweringly gothic kind of house with a full family of her husband's relations was not what she had expected. However, he refused to budge saying that it was his responsibility to take care of it all. When she was almost hounded and killed Julia decides to run away and make a life for herself.

Julia was now in a state of almost being at peace. In very turbulent circumstances, a bad decision of giving away her infant son for adoption has derailed her life since. She has come to terms almost with this bad decision until she starts receiving mail and a photograph of her son along with instructions to come to Venice.

The story becomes quite complicated with her arrival in Venice. Despite being instructed to be cautious with strangers Julia seemed overly naïve and open especially in a cloak and dagger situation. It became farcical with the number of coincidences that happened to Julia one after another but she kept doggedly on in her search.

The fact that it ended well despite the danger and histrionics of a mad family hell bent on money added to this mystery.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Agora Books.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Being on lockdown, the reading and reading and reading is going on apace. At least I hope I will be able to finish my March reads to be a bit upto date on what I have undertaken to do.

Casey cannot get to grips with her mother's unexpected death and to top the disasters up a break up of a relationship. She has also not been able to get a proper job commensurate with her qualifications because she wants to write and finish her novel. She gets this time by waitressing and uses her free time in trying very hard to make sense of what she sees as a good story just waiting to be written.

Falling in love with two different men, holding down a difficult job though it was only waitressing the undercurrents were huge! and trying to make sense of insurmountable student debt was too much for Casey who was breaking down under the strain.

I could get where Casey was coming from. In her mid twenties, all her friends are either getting married or having babies. They are all career girls balancing homes and careers or either married well with husbands who take care of all the problems of money. In Casey's case she is all alone and with a brother three thousand miles away she feels so alone, and so burdened by her life that she is literally cracking up.

The book touches on all the subjects that most modern women are subject to - the having it all theory, the beautiful balancing act of home and career, the glamour of looking well at all times and the effort it takes to get there, to have well behaved children because somehow it is your fault if they turn out to be jerks, fertility or rather lack of it can also be a women's problem it doesn't seem to end. Casey suffered from most of it at various stages in the story and this resonates with a lot of young women.

A well written thought provoking story.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grove Atlantic.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin

The book had a very nice background to it which was unusual. It was magic and illusion at the very highest level.  Chesterfield considered himself the very best, but he was greedy - he came from a very poor and harsh background and he made up a story that he was from an aristocratic home. He married well and was determined to get his hands on a fortune as well.

He also had a gambling problem which he thought he could wish away but would not go away with increasing debts. When he was indicted for murder he turned to a law firm and the lawyer who had got him free on two previous charges of murder. It seemed so suspicious when he was indicted for the third time. There seemed to be a pattern for the murders but Robin Lockwood was clever and the defense was very poorly prepared and so Chesterfield got away with it once again.

But his end was coming soon and when he was killed in front of a huge audience with no clues as to how it was done and by whom, Robin was again in charge of the case and through a clever process of detection and deduction the trail was found and followed.

The story runs between two time lines - that of Regina's defense of Chesterfield years ago and then coming to Robin's defense of today. It was not exactly confusing but may have been done with less of the past and more of the present.

The story is a quick read and the final outcome was a surprise.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Liberation of Brigid Dunne by Patricia Scanlan

Having studied in a convent from the age of four plus, I have a liking for anything convent or monastery like and this one fitted the bill.

Starting in Toronto Marie Claire seems to have it all - a career going places, a very handsome boyfriend with whom she sees a steady future ahead and everything looks rosy until she overhears a telephone conversation and her world is shattered. Determined to go out with chin up she moves away from Toronto back to Ireland to the comfort of what she knows best. Her family.

The timing is right - her beloved grand aunt's eightieth birthday and her retirement from the nunnery and the religious life and getting to meet her mother and father who will return to Ireland and meet up with her grandmother irascible though she is.

Woven into the strands of Marie Claire's life is also the life of Brigid (the nun) and Imelda her grandmother. Both are complicated lives with secrets hidden deep for decades. Then there is Marie Claire's mother and father with plenty of secrets of their own. At the eightieth birthday party with friends and religious present Imelda's viciousness holds no bounds and she lets it all rip apart destroying all pretense of family togetherness.

How to calm everyone down and bring some kind of peace to the family is the work of Brigid who wants to end the festering bitterness and animosity hidden. This is done in a particularly remarkable pilgrimage which was totally new to me (I am now looking into that aspect as it was a fascinating one).

A family saga with lots of history thrown in especially the role of the Church in the lives of Irishwomen and what disadvantages they faced as women by being part of the Church which was an intrinsic part of their lives.

This was a wonderful novel to read.

Thanks to Netgalley who sent it to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Atria Books

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dennis Bisskit and the Basset Hound from Beacon's Bottom and Continental Crimes by Martin Edwards (vintage detective stories)

This was a fun read and what both Dennis and Stinky do so well is that they are good detectives and now they are getting a bit of notice and action. The chance to protect an aristocratic dog at the best dog show in town is a plum assignment but have they bitten more than what they could chew.

Hilariously funny and a good read for all ages.

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

Always a favourite of mine the British Classic Crime series. I think it should be classified as a separate genre. Dignified even in murder, detectives slowly go about their daily work with precision and class.

Set in cities, idyllic countrysides and in the Riviera the stories change the tone with the change of scenery.

A lovely read for all seasons.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Girl On The Roof by Debra Moffitt

For a couple of pages into this book, I did not quite get the entire gist of what was happening.

Annecey like most French towns under the yoke of Nazi brutality are trying their best to live. To just survive. In this scenario we have an ordinary family - one young daughter working for the Nazis in town - hates them but pretends to be subservient just to get as many secrets as she could to help the resistance. A young brother working for the Resistance and a little sister who gets murdered by a sadistic paedophile who is a Nazi but where it cannot be proved that he is the murderer.

Aurelie is the restless spirit in this story who for sometime has to be convinced she is dead and that none of her beloved family can actually see or hear her. Those like her sister Claire and her best friend Ginny sense her presence and what she says to them in a dream but then they brush it away as a figment of their imagination.  Aurelie is one of the girls found dead but then other bodies also come up and Aurelie senses that Ginny is next.

The focus of the book then shifts as to how Aurelie is going to protect and warn Ginny of the danger she is in from the Nazi officer who has befriended her and whom Ginny is infatuated with. The dangers of espionage in Nazi occupied France are also highlighted in the story and this also forms the backdrop to the suspenseful tale.

Unusual storyline, the background of occupied France and rural Annecey all add to a very good story.

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

Lost at Sea by Erica Boyce

Living in a small town everyone knows everyone else's business. There is no secret that can be kept quiet for long. Eventually it may not be gossiped about, but its known. The good thing is that there is a line of invisible support and in this small town it is more than most when fishermen's wives are left suddenly bereft with the loss of a husband.

The story revolves around the sudden disappearance of John Staybrook from his fishing boat and as to why he took the boat out in very difficult circumstances. His little daughter Ella refuses to accept that he is dead, believing he is still missing and somewhere out there waiting to be found. Apart from the basic heart break of sudden loss the story goes into many, many stories such as adoption, alcoholism, drug addiction, relationships, family ties.

It seemed overwhelming to be faced with many issues in one straight forward story but little by little the book settled into an easy reading pace and proved to be a good, interesting story.

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