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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DEATH OF AN OUTSIDER by M C BEATON

Death of an Outsider (Hamish Macbeth, #3)


My second M C Beaton read in one week. I am now getting into her style and liking it. Like Hamish our local detective the author is almost laconic in her manner of dealing with murder and mystery.
A completely different style to what I have been used to. 

We have a plodder - a detective in the backwoods of the Highlands. Frowned on by his superior officer Blair who treats him with contempt but is secretly fearful that he will solve the mystery (again) and make Blair the laughing stock of the police force, Hamish goes on his merry way seemingly oblivious to what goes on around him but obviously picking up clues studiously and putting the whole thing together.

I would like the surroundings to be a little more descriptive. I can imagine the Scottish Highlands to be beautiful in their own right but this is a murder right? so the background is just that. 

Light reading and to top it all a nice sized font!

On a non reading note we are back to hot, extremely hot weather. We also bought our wedding sari so that is a major hurdle over. I just hope our bride loves it as much as I do!


Monday, July 29, 2013

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday hosted for July by Book Obsessed.

The books that I got this week are

The Promise: An Italian Romance


Put Italian and romance in one sentence and I am a sucker! the cover is a bit unprepossessing I thought. You can do so very very much with Italian and Romance!

The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy


Not read British chick lit for quite sometime. I like the sound of this one.

The Italian Wedding

Two feuding families, two love stories and to crown it all a feast of delicious Italian food.

This week it is all fun, light reads!



This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading 

Death of an Outsider (Hamish Macbeth, #3)

I find these books very easy to read. They are small books which fit into a handbag very conveniently so I seem to be reading much more than usual!

Unlike most bloggers, I do not have a stack of books to be read awaiting me. I am in awe of those who seem to have literally hundreds of books awaiting reading and review. My TBR list is enormous of course but the actual physical number of books is always just a couple of books available at any one time. The fortunate thing is that I always find a couple of books to have around so that the fear of not having anything to read is never there. 




Sunday, July 28, 2013

THE REAL THING by CATHERINE ALLIOTT

The Real Thing


Although it could be called a romance this is more about family - the complicated and straight forward relationships that go to bind a family together and how though we may not forgive someone "outside" we are always willing to go the extra mile to forgive someone within the family.

We have our housewife  stay at home Mum 30ish two young kids, devoted husband barrister. We have a background of a close knit sibling almost 30 unmarried. A dominant father and a submissive mother who seems to give in for the sake of peace. We also have as a side kick a rather interesting cousin and her parents. Altogether three kids form the whole parcel of family.

Set in a family pile in Scotland where the family trek for holidays we also have the smouldering ex  boyfriend who for the last twelve years has been holding out hope that our now Mum but erstwhile girlfriend Tessa will come back to him. A few fairly interesting, eye brow raising questions do come up but it all seems to end well.

A very simple story and just right for the lazy Sunday I have had! My visitors have gone away for the weekend leaving behind heaps of washing to be done but the house is quiet so reading got done!

Friday, July 26, 2013

CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING by JULIA STRACHEY

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When I first read this title I thought it was going to be a read in the manner of a Joanna Trollope - a fun read. I did not expect the interest to be rather dark and humorous. Dark but still humorous.

A young woman (not a very nice person!) is in her dressing room on the morning of her wedding with a bottle of rum. The house is very full of guests and family including her ex lover! There are squabbles, there is a lot unsaid, you can read some of the characters very well and some are difficult to fathom. A short story you are finished almost before you get into it but the characterization is very good and the plot very short and sweet.

Definitely not for everyone and judging by general reviews the audience is divided on this one.  I rather liked it.

It's Saturday morning here and I was hoping for a quiet weekend. I think its going to be anything but quiet!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

DEATH OF A DREAMER by M C BEATON

Death of a Dreamer (Hamish Macbeth, #22)


My first ever read of M C Beaton. A short review.

I've got several of them on my shelf and find them very easy to read. The books are small, a good sized font and are ideal for someone who can read in between appointments, endlessly waiting for someone (me) so this was a quick read.

I found the style succinct and to the point. I expected much more. I thought the rural setting of the Highlands would have been more descriptive. I think I've got used to (and liked) descriptions of the country where the book is actually based. This may be due to the fact that I enjoy travel and this is another vicarious way of visiting these fabulous places! from that point of view this book disappointed me but that is me.

Straight forward murders in a sleepy locale. The local cop is looked on as a bright spark by some and a plodder by others. He however has the reputation of finding the killer (always!).  Quirky characters involved including the murdered victims and all are not what they seem - including the copper's pets - loved their names by the way Lugs and Sonsie! thought that was really good.

A pleasant enough read and if you are looking for a book that you could just pick up and start and then put aside and come back to later this is perfect. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?



Mailbox Monday for July is being hosted by Book Obsessed.  I've come to the meme late since my Monday was spent out of Colombo and we got back home rather late.

The books that came in this week are

The Real Thing

A housewife with a seven year itch, lusting after her old boy friend. I've not read something like this for yonks so definitely looking forward to this one. 
Queen of Dreams

Mothers and daughters and the crisis of cultural identity. I can definitely identify with both!!!!

Death of a Dreamer (Hamish Macbeth, #22)

Set in rural Scotland. I like this scenario. 


Death of a Poison Pen (Hamish Macbeth, #20)

With a cover like this and set in a Highland town, how could I resist. 





Death of an Outsider (Hamish Macbeth, #3)

I'd go and live in Scotland tomorrow if I could be surrounded by structures like these! that graveyard scene is gothic!



Toujours Provence

Ideal escapist literature for me. I just conjure the rest in my mind......

After a drought of several weeks this is a golden lode for me.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I still don't know what I am going to start out with! It will all get read though.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

A RURAL AFFAIR by CATHERINE ALLIOTT

A Rural Affair


I do so like summery light covers and this fitted the bill. Read about this author on a blog and I have such a towering pile of TBRs that I always like to tick one off.

Phil is killed in a bizarre cycling accident. Poppy should be the bereaved widow. She isn't. She is quite relieved to be free of Phil and she and the two children can live a life free of all rules and regulations (she always felt that she lived under an army commander whose wish was law in the house). Going on we discover that Phil is not pure as the driven snow, there is a story of infidelity and also one where he was planning on leaving Poppy. This is the biggest surprise for Poppy who thinks this is so out of character for the straight laced Phil who she obviously did not know very well.

We also have a fat inheritance and the chance for Poppy to do whatever she would like. We have the mistress on the sidelines and we have a whole rural community of men folk drawn to Poppy for different reasons - some just pure greed for the money and some attracted to Poppy herself. How Poppy handles the transformation of their lives in this small rural community is the story of much light hearted banter and serious philosophical thinking. 

The combination is so very good that it makes for a very good read. 



Thursday, July 18, 2013

WHERE DID YOU GO BERNADETTE by MARIA SEMPLE


This review is long overdue and I do not know how on earth I missed it. 

The story was a good one but there was no punch at the end and that deflated me. 

Bernadette is a high flyer - eccentric, opinionated, different to all the other mothers who come to pick up their children but she is also someone who has the unswerving loyalty of her daughter Bee who realizes Mom is strange but she is anyway my Mom sort of thing.

Bernadette is an architect with winning awards behind her but someone who dislikes interaction with real people. Her life - every bit of it - is run by a virtual assistant from a call center in India and she finds this wonderful. The pinch comes when a trip to Antarctica promised to Bee for getting excellent grades has to be fulfilled. For someone who is averse to people this is going to be a tough call. Cooped up for weeks first on a ship and then on a station in Antarctica is impossible and Bernadette disappears.

I think this would be a book that could be turned into a movie. The drama and the entertainment are all there. The characters - all three of our main ones are quirky and eccentric in their own way and would make for wonderful copy. 

In the minority here where I did not love it. Maybe it is difficult for me to visualize the suburban parents of America and did not empathize with the family and neighbours enough! I liked to read this one and did finish it though I did not love it.

Weather here is good. Intermittently hot and humid with heavy rains as well, its certainly better than being hot all the time.

On the wedding side, we have got down to sari shopping and have narrowed our selection. Its nerve wracking that the bride just wants her Mother and elder sister to decide and buy!!!!




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

UNDER THE JEWELLED SKY by ALISON McQUEEN

Under the Jewelled Sky


I like books set in colonial India. I never seem to tire of them. This was absolutely brilliant. 

We have a very middle class English family. Father is a doctor, mother housewife and one child. Doctor enjoys working for the Rajah in the palace and despite the lack of an intellectual stimulus he does enjoy the work and his colleagues. The wife is a puritan, does not like the natives, looks on everyone as savages if they are not Christian and generally looks down on everyone around her. Sophie our heroine is the charming, innocent daughter of these two who unhappily falls in love with one who definitely forbidden territory. One of the local boys. To his own family this is a disgrace and one which leads to his father leaving the household of the Rajah in disgrace and going back to his old village.

Fast forward a good time and we find Sophie married to a supposedly charming man who is also in the diplomatic services with his posting to New Delhi on the cards. This posting opens up a world which Sophie has kept tightly hidden within herself and the series of coincidental events which unfold could be just a romantic story or could be what would also be described as your karma or fate from which one can generally never escape.

Very descriptive of colonial India both before independence and at the time of independence, the paranoia over separation, the jitteriness amongst the old colonials who are torn between going back to a home they do not know or understand or settling in India for good, an India which does not look very favourably on them at that. 

The split between two time frames of Sophie as a youngster and Sophie years later her lover as a young boy and then later as a man and also her father in his retirement were very interesting facets of the book. 

Excellent storytelling and at the heart of it a story of love, family, betrayal and regained love. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Hosted by Book Obsessed  for the month of July.

Nothing new to report this week. Yet playing catch up after returning from Melbourne. The reason for all the delay is this !





Tia is with us along with her parents.

I never realized how absorbing and what a lot of time goes into looking after the needs of a little one!!!! We are very fortunate in Sri Lanka to have help available so it is very little hard work and a lot of pleasure!!!!



This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I have gone back to re reads - right now its P D James The Lighthouse. With such a lot of activity in the house there is no point going in for a new book. Reading taking a back seat for the next two weeks at least. 

My daughter and son in law are back home after two years so there is a lot of parties, dinners and the all important food aspect. I think all children returning home are nostalgic for home cooked meals!!!


Friday, July 5, 2013

THE CHALICE by NANCY BILYEAU

The Chalice


Second in a series featuring the intrepid nun Joanna. Set in Tudor England at a time of great religious strife and indecision.

I loved The Crown and was looking forward to getting into this one. It somehow did not have the impact that the first book had for me. This story set in 1538 shows Joanna now in the secular world, her convent like so many convents and monasteries dissolved, all their treasures taken over by the State. Joanna is trying to establish a tapestry business as a means of livelihood. This is something she is good at and she needs to earn her living. She also has the responsibility of a little boy - Arthur whom she intends to bring up.

This peaceful life is disrupted by a prophecy that involves Joanna. It is a dangerous one. One that involves the overthrow of the present King and establishing  Catholic rule in England. Being from a powerful family herself despite being a nun, Joanna is constantly thrown into contact with the aristocracy and there are many who are aware of how dangerous she can be to their own positions. This puts Joanna in grave danger particularly as she herself seems to ignore her own personal danger as against what she is destined to do.

The author describes not just the plot and period very well but also the details of the everyday living of its ordinary inhabitants. This is the part I liked as it brings life as it was in Tudor England to life. For me there was a somewhat sameness in the story of Joanna and maybe that was why it was not as exciting as the first book.

As a piece of historical fiction this was a good read though. 



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

AFTERWARDS by ROSAMUND LUPTON



This was creepy/fantastic in the (you can't say the nicest way) but certainly in a way that caught your interest, held it throughout the book. You were also hoping and cheering for a good ending but sadly it was not all good.

A fire at the school where Adam and Jenny attend seems very much like what it appears. An accident. Grace realizing that Jenny is still inside the building rushes in to get to her. Both of them are badly hurt in this fire.

What transpires next is what I would consider art in story telling. How this author weaves in the story of every caring parent, wanting to protect and guard their children against all odds that life throws at them and this continues irrespective of whether the child is 7 or 17 or 37. The instinct to protect and how this continues in this story, despite both mother and daughter being unconscious and acting out of their bodies as it were makes for a fantastic read.

The story is a mystery thriller as well and although it is sad, it is not a story that is grief stricken and did not leave me feeling the way I do with some sad stories. I've given up on Jodi Picoult as it leaves me depressed for days afterwards. Lupton did not do that for me and that was really good.

Very interesting reading - drifting between fantasy and fact for the reader was unusual but intriguing.