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Monday, August 2, 2021

The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French

Ellen is not an impulsive person. Everything is thought out through and planned so there are no unpleasant surprises. This was what hit her hard when her husband of twenty years walked out on her - his complaint was that she was predictable, in other words boring. She has also lost her parents and is now trying to come to terms with loss as a thing itself. She wants her life to be better, to be more meaningful and having inherited a beach cottage she decides to go there, clean it out with the intention of selling it. On impulse she invites her friend Lara, now sick with a bout of a recurrence of cancer, needing treatment and a friend. Ellen did not envisage that the flamboyant Lara will gather together like minded souls in the cancer clinic she attends and her little coterie meets at the cottage and though Ellen tries to keep away from the group, she is invariably drawn into their thoughts, their activities and their day to day life. At Lara's insistence Ellen joins a writer's group to try to rekindle the author in her, she knows is buried deep within and also puts Ellen on a dating site (for Ellen this is the worst thing that could happen to her!). Gradually Ellen's barriers come down and she realises that life is for living and for taking what comes your way and making the best of whatever is given. Learning lessons from the group of survivors from cancer, she applies these to her own self. This was a coming of age story, though the character was middle aged and not a youngster. Enlightening read. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Casey at 31 just wants to live the life she envisaged. Wracked by sadness at the death of her mother, desolate with a broken love affair she waits tables and at the same time tries her best to finish the novel she started writing and with six years gone, she knows she has to do it now or its never going to happen. Having two men in love with her added to Casey's stress and the debts she was burdened with left Casey feeling pressurized to the hilt. Whilst all her friends were married, having children, having careers Casey felt that she was somehow left behind in the race to do something worthwhile. The story meanders on in this way, Casey alternately coming to grips with her situation and then almost going under with the pressure and sadness faced by most modern women - the having it all, the balancing of family and career and the appearances that are so important and to do what society considers right and correct. A rather emotional roller coaster for Casey and for the reader. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall

Paislee Shaw is a single mum, owner of a sweater and yarn shop and supports herself and son, plus grandfather and Wallace the dog. When she is pressurised with one months notice to give up her lease on her prime situation shop, she and the other tenants all equally pressurized by the situation has to come up with a plan to meet their elusive landlord. He does not respond to letters or telephone calls and although he is rumoured to live in the village pile, his whereabouts are unknown and no sightings of him at all. When Paislee accompanies her son along with a group of school children to the aristocratic home of her landlord and his mother, her main focus was on collaring Shawn Marcus and forcing him to see reason. She did not envisage to be the witness of a murder, be then suspected in the murder and then get inveigled into an investigation of the murder promoted by Shawn's mother herself the Lady Leery who asks Paislee to go detect the history of these murders, mainly of course of clearing her son's name. The series deals with Paislee (who is in a bit of a time management fix) with love interests from both the Detective as well as the Head Master and finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time a bit too often. The setting is charming, the characters even more so, the villains are villainous and the story rolls along with many, many suspects. A cozy which aptly lives upto the description. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Secretary by Catherine Hokin

Germany 1940. Magda is in a very high position as Secretary to Himmler. She appears to her fellow citizens as a traitor, despicable and despised but she has by sheer grit come to this position to get information and help her fellow citizens. Fast forward forty years and her grand daughter is now in East Berlin acting in the same manner as her grandmother and creating dissension amongst the East German police, and trying to protect her fellow countrymen. Magda despite her connections cannot save Nina and Nina is imprisoned. Nina trying to trace her family's enigmatic history stumbles upon the Tower House, from a drawing found in her grandmother's cupboard and the whole story of Magda's past trickles out. The house was originally owned by Jews, requisitioned by Himmler and given to Magda for "good behavior". Magda hated it, did not want to have anything to do with it and did not talk about it to her family. The story with this setting was emotional and tense. It also showed how for the spirit of survival even family can split, and for the same spirit of survival it can sacrifice everything for the sake of another. The story is sad because for me the whole loss of actually life to the full is deprived in situations like this, people make do, sacrifice, live on the bare minimum for the sake of loyalty to ties of family, politics and in the case of nazis, even to their own beliefs in their systems. The racism that was so alive and kicking in that day is sadly evident today as well in other forms. The story was an eye opener. I had a problem with posting and did the review only on Goodreads as the reviews were piling up. This book was kindly sent to me by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Strictly Murder (Verity Long Mysteries No. 1) by Lynda Wilcox

Verity is harmless but tends to land herself in unwanted troubles. On a house hunt for a place to live, she inspects a flat and finds a dead body - and a celebrity to boot. Verity finds herself as a suspect in the murder herself and gets drawn into the world of theatre, lots of stars all bitchy and all not appearing as nice as they look (though there are are some very handsome ones in the mix). Verity works for a crime fiction writer. Her job is to ferret out old crimes and get all the information on them so that her boss can formulate a story out of them. The author is a very successful one and the formula seems to have worked all this time. This time around in the ferreting of information, Verity herself is in the line of fire as there are people not happy with the way inquiries are going. A cosy crime mystery (with a few too many strands to connect) and also a touch of romance to lighten it up this made for interesting reading. Downloaded from Amazon.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Death In Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

The story set in Daylesford a spa town and supposed to be a holiday for Phyrne is really a busman's holiday. Thrown headlong into mystery (and murder) Phyrne unravels everything in a delightful manner much to the annoyance of the local constable. There is a mystery of disappearing women, and then there is a series of murders almost right in front of everyone. On the other side of Victoria, Phyrne's three wards are solving a mystery of their own under the guidance of Hugh Collins. Loved the style of writing, as well as all the characters that went into making this story. The ease with which Phyrne deals with villains and gentlemen alike is mesmerizing! Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I had a technical problem on my blog and could not post reviews, hence the delay in posting this. My regrets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Crooked In His Ways by S M Godwin

Albert Beauchamp disappears and appears a year later - but in a crate in New Orleans, very well salted. Inspector Lightner alias Lord Jasper and Hieronymus Law are the detectives on the case. Investigations reveal that Albert was a very unsavory character. Blackmail was his chosen occupation and he bled many not just the high and mighty but even the humble and poor till they were left with nothing. Suspects abounded and many were glad that he was dead but justice had to be meted out. On the other hand Inspector had his own burdens. Disliked by the powers that were in the New York City Police because of his background, his cleverness, his free of corruption and the inability to be bribed reputation - the Police Force were considered the most corrupt in the country, Lightner had to fight a lone battle along with Law and a few supporters to find out who the killers were. The closer he got to the killer, the worse and more dangerous it became. I found Jasper to be a character to be much admired for his simplicity, his style and elegance. Law was a perfect foil. Liked the setting too of 1856 New York. I could not post this on my blog due to some technical problem and this has hence got delayed. I am grateful to Crooked Lane Books for sending this to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.