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Monday, March 31, 2014


I came across some downloads of Anthony Trollope's books and these will form my Mailbox this week. They are big books so I really don't know when I am going to finish them all.

Barchester Towers (Barchester Chronicles, #2)

I like stories dealing with the church and this is one of those. Not particularly religious though. More dealing with the politics of the bishopric.

Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.  English society pre 1832.

The Duke's Children

This is a good one. A father tries very hard to direct the lives of his children and finds his wishes are not taken into account.  Applies even now!!!

The Small House at Allington

Lots of intertwined stories in this novel.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I am reading The Small House at Allington. Not a book one could rush through but at 700 odd pages I need to get a move on.

This is going to be a classics week I think unless I can dig out a mystery or a murder from somewhere!

Sunday, March 30, 2014



Slightly different to the usual Inspector Lynley stories this is more personal to Barbara Havers are Sergeant than anything else. Her good friend and neighbour is the Professor Azhar. His daughter Hadiyah has been abducted by Angelina his wife, but Azhar has no legal leg to stand on as he was not married to Angelina and his name does not appear on the birth certificate.

Azhar realizes that he has to deal with Angelina diplomatically if he is ever going to get his daughter back. The blow comes when Angelina informs him that Hadiyah has been abducted from a market place in Tuscany and that she has no clue as to why or how the kidnapping took place.

The Italian police are investigating this crime but the Yard will not get involved despite Barbara's impassioned pleas to Lynley and in a typical Barbara manner she goes in head first, against all rules and regulations of her own force to try to solve the puzzle and bring Hadiyah back home.  Reaching Italy, Barbara realizes that she is having to face both Angelina and her lover, the Professor on the one side and also face expulsion even from her job with a disciplinary inquiry looming over her head. 

With far more implications than a mere kidnapping and with more twists and turns the story reaches its inevitable end. However, it was not the usual Elizabeth George story that I look forward to. I was so very happy when I came across this book as its one of the latest from this author and it disappointed me. She veered so much off course from her normal mystery/murders which are exquisitely told. I hope the next one will be back on form though.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Murder, She Wrote: The Queen's Jewels

Jessica Fletcher has always wanted to cruise. To relax, to take a couple of sessions in the luxurious spa and generally to forget about the daily chores and worries. Before embarking on this voyage, she calls her good friend at Scotland Yard to apprise him of her plans. He does mention the loss of a fabulous diamond and that during the heist the owner of the diamond was also killed. From his description it is obvious also that whoever killed the owner was well known to him as there was no sign of forced entry.

Jessica embarks on her journey and soon meets up with a mixed bunch of characters. Coincidentally one of the people is the partner of the man who was murdered along with his partner the very beautiful Betty. Along with them are myriad other characters including people from Jessica's own past who are connected to various mysteries that she had solved before. It seems too much of a coincidence that all these people should be on one ship, including not just the British secret service but even a member of the Israeli secret service. 

The book follows the usual pattern of murder mystery and though very predictable is a very pleasant read. Just enough of mystery and murder not too much to overpower you and enough twists in the tale to keep you interested.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Astonishing Splashes of Colour

This was not an easy book to read or to even write a review. So many going back and forth that you had to stop and think where you were with the story.

Kitty is married and has lost her baby recently. To all appearances she seems to have "got over it" but the reality is that the pain of the loss lives with her every single day.  She looks at the mums waiting at school and thinks of the color yellow as the color of optimism. Her husband on the other side with his scrupulously clean house (they live in separate households), meticulous standards and pristine furniture is white (everything in the house is white). Her father a commercial painter loud and exuberant is red. This was the first time I looked at characters and thought of a color myself which opened another vista for me!

Brought up in a family of four boys with a mother who died when she was a toddler  Kitty has always felt separate. Different and separate. Very protective of their only sister all four boys are anxious about her welfare both mental and physical. Kitty is the only one who cannot remember their mother at all and any questions put to her brothers adds to the complexity of her mind. They all have totally different images of the one woman whom they call Mother.

The story progresses on two wavelengths. The unraveling of Kitty's mind with her inability to cope with the reality of her loss of her baby. The other deals with her mother who is apparently not dead and who is also apparently not Kitty's mother at all, when she finally appears. 

Our narrator in the story is Kitty herself. The story is at times child like in its simplicity and straightforwardness and at other times becomes very complex. It is not a dark and heavy novel but it is heartbreaking at the same time. 

This was a recommendation of a fellow blogger - Cornflower Books.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Becoming Josephine

Rose originally from the island of Martinique always wanted to escape the backwaters of her native background and be the cynosure of all eyes in Paris. For her marriage was the escape clause that opened up new vistas for her and she was determined to hold on to it at any cost. Despite a marriage to a man who was condescendingly patronizing to her - a country bumpkin - she saw that this was just a first step on her upward journey but she herself never imagined what a journey it would be.

Married to Alexandre and with two children Rose finds herself still on the fringe of society with a philandering husband. When she is widowed in the tumult of revolutionary France, she realizes a protector not just temporarily but permanent is a must if she is to maintain a position in French society. Having caught the eye of Napoleon then a mere general the story of his love for Rose whom he rechristens Josephine and her liking for him which developed into a passion for the general is the basis of the story.

Set amongst the war in France between the Royalty and the Republicans and the establishment of the Republique and the ouster of the King and Queen of France, we see the ultimate rise of Napoleon to the position of Emperor. A position of irony as he deposed an existing King to become Emperor. With Josephine at his side, Napoleon though professing love for her which was undying was nevertheless besotted with mistresses galore and finally divorced Josephine as she did not have any children from him, and as Emperor he needed an heir. The fact that Josephine had two children from her previous marriage still made her the one at fault in this instance.

The rags to riches story is one that is magically told, holding one's interest throughout. For lovers of historical fiction this is a good one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Astonishing Splashes of Colour

A recommendation from Cornflower Books.

Murder, She Wrote: The Queen's Jewels

Like this series.


The Inspector Lynley series. Love the books and the TV series as well. Watched it till I dropped in Melbourne almost daily!

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Another recommendation from Cornflower Books.

A win from The Bibliophilic Book blog. Thank you.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Becoming Josephine

This was a win from Caffeinated Life. Thanks Lianne.

With this lot of books my choices of books will get limited once again! Back at home and enjoying it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The Book of Lost Fragrances (Reincarnationist, #4)

The book focuses on the L'Etoile family and along with it there are many characters linked to the world of perfume, all of whom bring to the story their own individual stories from both long ago and the present.

We have Jac and her brother Robbie - both of the present generation heavily influenced by not just their dead parents but by their grandfather as well. The legacy of the perfume business has been one of generations - and with it are myriads of stories both unfounded and true and the search for the twelve memory tools in perfume dating back to the time of Cleopatra goes on.

Even in present day times there are those who believe that if those essences could be distilled it would lead to reincarnation and the ability to be linked with a loved one through birth and constant rebirth. Of the two Jac seems to be the one more spiritually linked to the perfume as well as to the possibility of reincarnation but she has actively removed herself from the scene preferring to deal with the prosaic business of life in the here and now.

Spanning a time frame from Cleopatra and Egypt to the present day unrest in Tibet and the atrocities committed by the Chinese in putting down the Tibetan rebellions and modern Paris we smoothly move from one era to the next, from one geographical sphere to the next and this all adds to the fascination of this story. The descriptions are imaginative and I found the episodes in the catacombs in Paris evocative and added to the aura of mystery to the story.

I never knew the importance that perfume played in history and this book was an education in itself on the subject. Fascinating reading as it was not just a family saga of the L'Etoile family and their ancient business but it also combined mystery, present day politics and the stories of the Dalai Lama and how the Tibetans are not just surviving but progressing in the face of rigid aggression but also how religious as well as other beliefs do survive despite any obstacles you throw at it!

An author I will be going back to.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Sisters Of Mercy

We have two sisters separated as children. Neither one knows of the others existence till decades later. The sisters cannot be more different in character either. 

We have one - cold, cynical, inhuman almost and the other a loving grandmother and mother who just wanted to reach out and know a sister. The story line is excellent. How Ruby born in Australia along with Snow gets separated at an orphanage, gets sent to England makes a wonderful life for herself there and then discovers that she did have a family - a father who obviously never forgot her and who kept an inheritance for her back in Australia and a sister she had never seen. How she makes the trek back to Australia just to meet her sister and see where her parents lived is the beginning of the story. 

Told mostly in a series of letters whilst in prison, Snow recounts her years from the time she was a child to a journalist telling her side of the story. She does not come out of this very nicely and the more one reads, the more one can be horrified how such a person seemed to have got away with what she did for so long until the authorities discovered that things were not quite right. 

Even though the story is an excellent one, the fact that there was no definitive ending and I was left hanging in the balance left me feeling very disappointed. Either with a "happily ever after" or a sad ending I like to know what happens and this left me feeling flat. 

Just days to go before I leave Melbourne for Sri Lanka and trying to read as much as I can!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Mailbox Monday is strange this week as I expected to go and pick up lots of books but couldn't. So there is just one book only.

The Book of Lost Fragrances (Reincarnationist, #4)

An author I have been trying to get to for simply ages. Glad I got this one.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Am in the middle of Diana Gabaldon's An Echo in the Bone. I am however not so entranced as I was for the first time I picked up a Gabaldon. Am having to push myself to somehow finish this huge book. Maybe it is the size. Don't know.

Weather has changed in Melbourne and its back to cool days and nights with a bit of wind, sometimes sunny but so very pleasant.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Set in Corsica we have a group of young people enjoying a perfect holiday. Then Madeline disappears. Abducted it seems and then absolute silence. No ransom note, no nothing.

The story of the young, vibrant Madeline, her connections to the British Prime Minister - the blackmail behind the abduction, the involvement of Israeli intelligence, the Corsican and the Marseillaise mafia, the involvement of the highest in the land and the final outcome which is so surprising it is unbelievable is the story.

Very difficult to review without it being a spoiler, this author is a must for anyone with a penchant for political thrillers, mystery, the workings of a Secret Service and the mafia and the rules and regulations under which each system operates. The intricacies of the British parliamentary system is particularly detailed in this book and one which I found very interesting. 

It was my first read of Daniel Silva and I now see that he is a prolific writer. Hopefully I will get to another book of his before I leave. Gabriel Allon our Israeli master spy is the hero of this book and is featured in his other stories as well.  

Reviewers of this book (some of them) have been blaise about the formula of the books featuring Allon saying that there is much of a sameness to the books. For me, however, this being my first read the book was stunning. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


The Professor of Poetry

I liked the Guardian's description of Professor Stone - "brilliant and utterly clueless". That quite sums up our heroine's description. Couldn't be better put anyway.

She has just been diagnosed with cancer and fearing the worst is given the all clear. Elizabeth Stone now feels the time is right for her to do something that she wanted to do. See the connection between poetry and musicality. A difficult thing for me to understand was that poetry can communicate non verbally. 

Elizabeth decides to go back to her own college and there embarks or rather renews her relationship with her tutor Edward Hunt, now so much older and more set in his ways. His feelings for Elizabeth are apparent from the beginning - they were there from the time he first met her - but Elizabeth is oblivious to the most normal human interactions possible. It makes her a difficult, irritating character at times but that is the whole package of Elizabeth. Simple and seemingly living in a bubble.

This was not a book to be read in a hurry. The characters are sometimes semi tragic, sometimes comic. Irritating at times and sometimes so placid you want to shake them. 

The book had me plodding along at times and at times I was eager to know what Elizabeth would do next. Definitely not for everyone but certainly will appeal to many.

On a non book note, my hotmail account has been frozen! apparently they are suspicious as I am logging in from Australia so that I need new codes etc which they do not send to another email account I have given them. So anyone who has sent me emails, please forgive me. Its not that I am not answering any but I just can't get into my account. 

Monday, March 10, 2014


Family Storms (Storms, #1)

Sasha lives on the streets with her mother who has gradually become an alcoholic. Sasha loves her mother deeply and is the adult in this relationship.  A speeding car puts paid to Sasha's precarious existence when her mother is knocked down and killed and Sasha herself badly injured.

Things start looking up when Sasha is taken in by Jordan March the mother of the girl who drove the car which killed Sasha's mother. Jordan feels that this is the only way she can repay Sasha for the loss of her mother. She offers every material comfort possible not knowing or rather deliberately closing her eyes to the antagonism that Sasha will have to face from her daughter Kiera and even from her husband who thinks that providing a trust fund for Sasha would be the best alternative.The story proceeds with setbacks for Sasha in her new home because Kiera is manipulative and destructive and is envious of Sasha's position in the family. How it all ends well adds further to the fantasy of this story. 

The story is a rags to riches one and surreal. Fantasy - because one knows that things like this just do not happen. I expected more from the author as reviews for books by this author have been consistently positive.

The story is without any dimension and the characters are stereotyped - was disappointed with this book anyway. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014


My last Mailbox Monday was done on 16th February - so I am looking forward to this post this week.  Being in Melbourne allows me access to so many books - my problem is trying to see how many books I can squeeze into an eighteen day trip.

The books with me this Monday are 

A beautiful English girl disappears on the island of Corsica. It is not a normal kidnapping. Implicated are the PM of Britain. This is a thriller.

The Professor of Poetry

This was a book I read about on Cornflower Books. Its slightly slower reading but I think I need this in the midst of very exciting reads!

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)

This is a chunkster and I need to get going on this soon. Has to be exciting.

Sisters Of Mercy

This is the only book which I picked out which I haven't read a review of so I hope it surprises me.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Family Storms (Storms, #1)

I've seen reviews of this author's books and have never got to read one. Almost done with this one. Slightly surreal and I can see it ending happily but its an easy read.

Hot in Melbourne as well. I seem to take the hot weather with me. Was hoping for cool and chill!!!


Blackberry Winter

I have been wanting to read at least one of the three books I know by this author and am glad I found one at least. The title of this one also drew me in and it was only after reading it that I knew that it actually meant something in meteorological terms.

Set in 1933 Vera Ray is a single mother trying very hard to bring up her little boy Daniel by herself. An uphill task with a demanding job working as a cleaner in a hotel with erratic working hours, she is forced to leave Daniel as three year old by himself when she goes to work. One night Daniel goes missing and is never found. The story takes off from there. As the years go on there is no indication that Daniel is alive or dead and the police are painted as being indifferent, not wanting to take notice of a single mother who in their eyes was negligent.

Fast forward to 2010 and Claire a reporter on a leading Seattle newspaper owned by her husband the Kensingtons is asked by her editor to do an article on the unusual phenomenon of snow in May known as a Blackberry Winter. Wanting to make it a story of human interest rather than just a weather pattern, Claire unwittingly unravels a story hidden for over seventy years - the story of the missing Daniel. 

Connections between Vera and Claire are many and it seems almost fate that brought them together. It also helps to bring about peace in Claire's presently turbulent life.

A story of love between mother and child, loss and deep sadness and despite this a book I was so glad I got to. 

Back to very hot weather after two days of balmy coolness. Hoping the cold will come back soon.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


The Paris Winter

Another debut novel which is epic. 

A bit on the dark side with hidden elements which spring out at you. You are more taken aback than surprised as its totally unexpected. I think more than enough quirks to interest every kind of reader.

Maud Heighton has come to Paris to learn to paint. She is passionate about her art but she is the proverbial poor artist. With a small annuity she has to struggle and struggle she does. Very focussed on what she wants she is however constantly struggling with her poverty. We have Tanya the rich Russian girl with wealth behind her is also dabbling in art. For Tanya art is interesting but it is not her chief focus. Tanya has never known grinding poverty, hunger and being beautiful has also been the darling of everyone especially her family. 

We have Morel and his sister Sylvie - enigmatic characters. Morel devout brother to Sylvie and when he offers the position of companion to Maud he does confide in her that his sister is an opium addict who is trying to wean herself away from this addiction. The Morels world is one of quiet luxury, not opulent but dignified. 

The story is descriptive - you can visualise the artists and the models, the gallery where the actual lessons take place. When the scene moves on to less salubrious Paris it is equally well described. From the luxury of rich Paris to the slums this author has done a fantastic job of drawing the reader in and keeping them engrossed with the book. The vast gap in socio economic terms of Parisians itself was something which caught my interest and how the two groups co-exist with one trying to get as much as possible from their more wealthy and affluent compatriots.

The floods of 1910 are an integral part of the story. The characters are all very engaging and you want to egg Maud on from the very first knowing that it is her basic innocence that is going to be her downfall. 

There is a love story, a crime story, mystery, smuggling and murder. The fact that the author can pull all those disparate stories into one comprehensive and complete whole is her cleverness. In most other stories the detail may have been too much, almost superfluous. Not in this one.  This is one author one should not miss. 

My stock of reading is right now wonderful with Carnegie library giving me more than enough to devour!!! Thanks Carnegie.

Friday, March 7, 2014


This is only my second read of this prolific author and the second exceeded my expectations after reading the first.

Set in colonial India in 1953 I now discover that this could be partly biographical of the author herself. In this story, Sophie is recently widowed with no money and no pension or passage back to England for herself and her two very small children. Sophie however takes the bold step to stay back in India and make a life for herself there. The difference is that she "goes almost native" in the eyes of the Britishers who are in India by going to live in a very remote village far away from Srinagar which is the closest city and in a village where people have never even seen a white person let alone a white woman and children.

Teresa and Moo the two children are very much part of the complicated story of Sophie and Dilkhush which is the name of the house which Sophie takes on rent for their stay in India. Sophie loves India with a naivety which could be taken for foolishness. In her eyes all peasants are good and decent,and her enthusiasm for putting in new schemes for the benefit of the villagers is unlimited.  She cannot see the other side of the coin that she is considered very rich by the poor country folk and ripe for plucking. She does not heed advice given from either the Pundit who is the owner of the house, Profit David who is a jack of all trades and procurer of anything and everything and neither will she take notice of her chief servant Nabir Dar who warns her repeatedly of her trying to deal with the villagers in the straight forward way of the Britisher.

We watch with horror how the story is unfolding because you know disaster is not very far away and the story telling keeps you on edge because you never know what the repercussions of Sophie's decisions will be. You know that there is heartbreak ahead and even danger not just for Sophie but even for her children. I felt so angry that Sophie could be so naive by putting her two children in such danger, almost deliberately. Teresa is an old head on young shoulders at just eight taking in and understanding India so much better than her mother. The responsibility for her younger brother Moo and even for her mother at times fall on this little one's shoulders who understands the workings and machinations of those around them. The author understands the working of a child's mind so very well and this part of the story is beautifully told. 

A fascinating read. Unfortunately the local library here in Melbourne has no other books by this fabulous author.