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Friday, October 22, 2021

Susan a Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh

A mix of Regency Romance, touches of Persuasion, lots of Pride and Prejudice and you get a scintillating mix for the Jane Austen fantasy. A mixed bag of characters with the familiar Lady Catherine always hovering in the background, her daughter Lady Anne being more assertive than ever before, Frank Churchill dying before his time and Alicia Collins and Susan the start of the show. The characters were nicely placed and I liked that Susan was not all that sweet and submissive and ladylike. On the contrary she was scheming (not just for herself but for others as well), but with good intentions throughout, although her manner of achieving her aims was not very conservative. Mr and Mrs Collins were very nicely portrayed, long suffering and under obligation always. The entire story with its romantic themes interwoven throughout was a good one. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Woman at the Gates by Chrystyne Lucyk-Berger

A difficult story to assimilate as no holds barred in the telling of it. But this is how a story should be told especially one like this. It is also difficult if one has not lived through oppression of been under government control to understand living conditions like this. You can never under estimate the power of neighbours or relations who may not like you and who may "dob" you to the authorities. Compromise which may seem the cowards way out on reading it, may be the only way to survive and the human spirit does need to survive, come what may. The story set in 1944 embodies the spirit of survival, of family ties, of love and the heartbreak behind it all. Of personal sacrifice for the better of the common good. The characters in this story are doing the best they can not just for their country but for their own survival. I followed the maps which were interspersed with the chapters and saw how the borders of Ukraine, Lithuania, Slovekia, Yugoslavia, and even Russia changed every few years with wars and greed of one power taking over another. The story is full of historical detail (in great depth) which may not appeal to anyone other than those who like history because though the personal story is very powerful, the historical story is the one which is uppermost. It was my first read of a story set in 1944 Ukraine. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 18, 2021

A Death at Candlewick Castle by Emma Jameson (Book No. 2 in series)

The setting of a book and the geography also contributes much to the pleasure of reading, especially if you are not from the area, live in a totally different type of environment. Having a book set in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles brings to the overseas reader another glimpse of Britain - a most idyllic one here in this story. The story of a cozy mystery murder set in such surroundings, with an unofficial sleuth on hand and her band of friends adds to the piquancy of the read. When one body is found, and questions raised and he is found to be not such a nice guy after all the suspicions start pointing all ways and when another body is discovered Jem knows she has to get cracking with the clues before the bodies start piling up. Very pleasant reading from this author whom I discovered through another series by her. Sent by Bookouture for an independent review, courtesy of Netgalley

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Small Hotel by Suanne Laqueur

The story set in the islands seems idyllic. The family of Fiskare is close knit, lovable and part of a Swedish community. The ethnicity is quite marked and when a exotic relation from Rio turns up you know sparks will fly and they do. Then the equalizer of the Great War starts and the boys enlist, the household gets broken up, Astrid gets torn away from the love of her life Kemmet by her vindictive mother and there is general heartbreak around. The story continues in the setting of wartime Europe and extremely harsh it is most of the time. One of the sons dies, another is wounded and only one escapes unscathed physically, changed completely mentally. The war descriptive and brutal and all episodes in the various villages were quite difficult to read, fathom and accept. War however is never pretty and this was very harsh. We then go back to peacetime, back to the islands, back to a reconciliation and trying to pull together broken strands of everyone's life to make it all whole and complete again. The settings were different - from the peace and calm of a backwater island, to Europe and everything in between. A family of young men, peaceful and kind and basically good were returned in slightly different form after the ravages of war. Acceptance of being different was an important feature of the story. An unusual book in unusual settings. The horrors of war well told. Sent by Cathedral Rock Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward

Some mother daughter relationships are fraught with so many roadblocks. Emma had rarely spoken to her mother over the last couple of years because it invariably became tense, rude and unforgivable things were said. The fact that her mother was a difficult woman was acknowledged by many, but her mother's animosity towards Emma's second child, her daughter Libby was unforgivable. When her mother died, and Emma was left to clear her house and stuff, her will was enough in itself to be upsetting. She had changed her will one day before she died, leaving the flat to Libby - the grand daughter whom she refused to be courteous to during her life, and on further delving into papers and journals Emma discovers an entire new life her mother had. Something totally unknown, disturbing, and in hindsight accountable for her mother's distorted way of living her life. The story was alarming, very tense, very emotional, disturbing but an excellent read of hidden elements in a person's life and how eventually they do surface - intentionally or unintentionally. Some things seem like fate, some things should be left buried but are somehow dug up and then you cant put it back in the box neatly. It disrupts everything from that moment on. I did not feel that the facts that were buried, but were deliberately opened helped to bring about peace and happiness at least not very much. The story is unusual. Disturbing but unusual. Sent by Agora Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson (Lucas Rocco No. 1)

1963 France and Inspector Rocco is not the most popular of people. Each chapter started with one of his seniors making a comment on Rocco - his tenacity, his rough attitude, his way of getting things done, his not sticking to protocol, regulations or procedure. A lone wolf. Transferred to a small village with no crime records, the worst that happens is a brawl between two drunken old men. On Rocco's arrival looked with distrust amongst villagers who feel he is an "outsider" the crimes start. The first victim is the daughter of one of France's most eminent citizens, though a shady character in his own right. Identified as Natalie Berbier no one in the police hierarchy wants to touch the case because of its powerful implications but when the body is whisked from the morgue back to Paris, Rocco moves in the only way he knows how. Uncovering plots which go back decades to the time of WWII and which no one wants to talk about - Resistance and Communists, also traitors to the cause and many deaths in the village, pieces slowly begin to unravel and the Police top dogs have to take action despite their initial unwillingness. Highlighting police detection though a trifle unorthodox, police corruption prevalent in every society uptil now, the story was an excellent read. I will be looking out for subsequent numbers. The setting is bleak, not picturesque at all but it all adds to the darkness of the story. A download from Amazon.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Damask Rose by Carol McGrath

The story begins with Eleanor as a Princess being held hostage and with great privations and distress, especially after she lost her baby daughter. The actual story was fascinating to read. How the Princess Eleanor who was very much loved by her husband became a strong Queen who was shrewd, calculating and persistent with her plans and even with long hidden animosities which were nurtured and acted upon at the opportune moment. Eleanor was the power behind the throne - a much heeded advisor to the King, who never felt shy about her feelings on any subject within the realm. Though very diplomatically as well. She was the mother of some sixteen children, many of whom died either as still births or in infancy and this made her wary of being overly affectionate or loving as a mother. Her maternal feelings came into play only when the children were very well grown up. She handed over children to her mother in law to bring up, because she always felt that her position was by the side of her husband - whether on Crusade or whether travelling the length and breadth of Britain. In this story the other character Olwen has a very prominent part to play - from being a herbalist, a doctor's daughter who could not aspire to be an apothecary even being a woman, she was also a designer of gardens. This endeared her to the Queen who had manors and castles all over the country and who wanted gardens in every style imaginable and herbal gardens as well in all her residences. Olwen was faithful and part of the Queen's entourage for years and her story held great interest in this book. The book though very full of historical detail was not dull in the least but was a lively account of the Royal Court in the 13th century. A download from Amazon.