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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Clerical Errors, Secular Lies by Trefor Stockwell

Bringing the church into disrepute is the charge made against William the vicar of this quiet Welsh village. Not the child abuse claims so prevalent today but one of immoral behaviour on several counts with several women. A serial womaniser as it were. The behaviour had been going on for years and it was mainly due to his charismatic personality that William had got away with this.

On taking over the duties of the parish, William felt that he was all powerful and that he could walk over everyone in this place. He turned the first meeting of the wardens upside down and made an enemy for life. Peter Knight was not going to get over the insult of not being elected uncontested as Church Warden  and he was not going to let it go easily either. He was the guiding force behind the downfall of William but William helped himself immensely with his devil may care attitude towards all.

When the case comes up, journalists flock to this village to get the scurrilous details of the affair - the who and what, when and where. One journalist however wants to seek out the truth and he is also keen to see that justice is meted out if the good vicar is guilty. Most of the people around think that William will get away with it due to lack of hard evidence but like a who dun it, the story ends in a climax totally unexpected!

This was a good story, building up an unlikeable character with strong and weak characters surrounding him. A community totally split into two and even after the verdict split in two groups forever.

The book was sent to me from Netgalley via Troubador Publishing. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Best Corpse for the Job by Charlie Cochrane

Everything about this book was so "English". St Crispin's school set in Lindenshaw sounds idyllic. From the setting to its teachers it sounds ideal but of course nothing is ideal. Cracks are there and the breakdown happens when during an interview for headteacher one of the applicants gets brutally murdered in the school premises itself.

The governing body of the school has faced great odds in getting together applicants for this post. Their first attempt failed miserably and now on their second, they are all faced with an unpalatable fact that one of their body is a murderer.

Local boy Inspector Robin Bright is not really happy to be assigned the case. His school years at St Crispins are marked by nightmares still by the treatment meted out by his class mates. He was marked out as being gay very early on in life and they made sure his years at school was a misery.  Meeting Adam one of the teachers puts all Robin's resolve aside. You cannot fraternize with a witness or rather a suspect in a murder but Robin is irresistibly drawn towards the handsome Adam who makes no doubt that the feelings are mutual. 

When the second murder victim turns up, Robin has to put all personal feelings aside to start dealing with the nitty gritty of a desperate murderer who is also very clever. 

A very pleasant read. Apart from the murder the gay romance added such a different touch. Sensitively handled as well.

The book came to me from Netgalley courtesy of Riptide Publishing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

Just a few books came in!

This was from Open Library.


All from Netgalley


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The Marriage Game

Elizabeth I in all her glory. 

October is almost at an end. So soon.

Vanessa and her Sister by Priya Parmar

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel

This is going to be a tough book for me to review. I liked it so much that I think I may start gushing!

Set in 1905 with its particular background of the Bell family and the Bloomsbury group looming in the background the story is one set amongst intellectuals and artists of the day. These people were very different from the average Joe of the time and this set them apart. Their thinking and way of life was radical. In the book there is no indication of how the world thought of them, because the book is set only amongst characters of their own world so that they were all very much alike.

The Bell family comprised Virginia and Vanessa both unmarried and taking their spinsterhood very seriously. It hung about them like a cloak which had to be got rid of at all costs and in this they were very traditional for their time! the brothers Adrian and Thoby are the younger set. Virginia's first novel has been turned down and Vanessa has still to sell a single painting. They move from their family home to Bloomsbury and this is where the story starts.

Told in a series of diary form interspersed with letters to and fro from various other characters the story though involving a number of people centre around Vanessa and Virginia. The sisters are close and Virginia is almost in love with Vanessa. She is at turns psychotic and normal and does not want Vanessa to have a life or love of her own. When Vanessa does find a partner in Clive, Virginia insidiously seduces Clive, not because she is in love with him but because she does not want Vanessa to find fulfillment in anyone else other than herself.  Leave alone a husband, even a friend is not left alone. Virginia has to run interference at some stage and Vanessa just lets her be.  I found that very difficult to accept - the blind acceptance of Vanessa of the infidelity of her husband not just with Virginia but with a former mistress and how he blandly talks about it with his wife. Morals of the day I suppose in their circle.

This was an extraordinary book. History at its best with a family which was renowned. I found it extra interesting with the addition of Leonard Woolf as he was a civil servant for the British in both Kandy and Jaffna. He did yeoman service whilst in my country and also wrote a book "The Village in the Jungle" which was a text when I did my O'levels years ago! his snippets from Sri Lanka to the Bells was nostalgic.

This book came to me courtesy of Edelweiss. Thank you so much for this one!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Fragrance Shed by a Violet by Lin Wilder

The title is a quote from Mark Twain which I knew about only after I finished the book. It is very apt for this story.

Dr Lindsey McCall is beautiful, brainy, the apple of her father's eye but unfortunately the smote in her sister's and not the most loved by her mother who feels that she is overlooked in the general hierarchy in the family. You know from the beginning that the family is divided and this is going to be the crux of the problem despite accolades from everywhere else.

Lindsey is at the moment incarcerated in jail for complicity in murdering her mother with a drug which is undergoing trials as yet. Lindsey is also not very loud in her defense, she has refused to see friends since her time in jail and has cut off connections with all. 

Fortunately for Lindsey though she seems to have given up on her own defense, there seems to be a myriad others who haven't. Kate Townsend Pulitzer winning journalist and Rich Jansen the criminal defense attorney and presently in charge of the Prisons along with Campbell and a host of others in Texas take charge of the case and in a series of escalating discoveries find out very quickly who the actual culprit is.

Very cleverly told, fascinating what family will and wont do to support and destroy one another, a family story with a touch of romance as well which was a lovely touch. 

I couldn't put this book down and had to finish it in one go!

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for my honest opinion through the publisher Smith Publicity. Thank you. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas


This author handles a topic which is very much one for the current times. To be at the top, to win at all costs and the path to get there.

Taking a look at current Australia, it handles all the topics that an Australian today faces - the cross cultural mix which makes up the country, their migration and the feelings of white supremacy, old idiosyncrasies in families and the competitive world of world sports.

Danny is born to a middle class family. Also a mixed race family - a Greek mother and a white European father. For Danny his mother though so supportive of his ideals is sometimes someone he is ashamed of.  This was sad but realistic. Danny is moving in a world of white young men who are so sure of their identity and position that they seem unshakeable. Having won a scholarship to a prestigious school (the family would never be able to afford the fees otherwise) Danny knows immediately that he is not "one of the chosen few".  However Danny has come there to win. 

His love of the water, his feelings of being one with the water, almost as if the water loves, supports and caresses him (the book is very sensual in this aspect), makes the reader realize very early on that this is the feeling that will carry Danny through and make him win. The water gives him the confidence that no one can. Once in the water, he is another person. One who will win at any cost.

In Barracuda at times the language is just over the top, there is so much swearing and crude sex but I guess that adds to the tone of the book. You also wonder whether the author is critical of the competitive spirit which overwhelms one in the world of Australian sport? Whether this is a world wide phenomenon I don't know. 

The story of the life of Danny centred around swimming, around winning and then losing, the characters that surround Danny during his epic rise and fall are the story.

This will not be a book for everyone but it is an eyeopener all right.

I received this book from Blogging for Books. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

While we're far apart by Lynn Austin

While We're Far Apart

Stories set in WWII are especially emotional. Tinged with the sorrow of separation, invariably death and misery follow. When there are Jews involved it becomes even more complicated. You see how the actions of a single man effected millions of lives. You also see how people (some of them) did nothing to stop the carnage and others in a small but myriad ways helped individual people and in this way, nations survived.

We have two distinct families - one a Christian family. Recently having lost their mother in a tragic car crash, the father does not seem to be able to live in the same environment and despite having the care of two very young children, he enlists to fight. In the same building we have an older Jewish man. He lost his wife in the same accident, and now finds that with Germany invading Europe, his only son who went to Hungary to enroll in Jewish religious school is now missing with his wife and young daughter. Both survivors in this building fear the worst. One the war and the other the unknown because news of the Jewish incarceration was slow to reach the world. By the time it did, it was far too late for many.

On the sidelines we have a naive young woman Penny. She has always been in love with Eddie and volunteers her services to look after the children whilst Eddie is away. She is an extremely protected young woman with no self esteem at all and seems such a wrong choice. Eddie however gratefully accepts her offer not knowing that she is in love with him and hoping that this would give her an opportunity to win his heart over. The children do not like her taking care of them but the option of going to live with an unwilling grandmother is not one they want to accept so its no choice for them at all.

How all of them survive the two years of not knowing what the future will hold, the uncertainty of life and how they have to survive for their own sakes if nothing else is this story.

Very descriptive of Jewish rituals and the meaning of them (that was interesting) and the ties that bind families together was told very well. It took a while to actually get into the book but I am glad I persisted.

This was a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What are you reading?

Mailbox Monday is very late and its because I was in Singapore.


two of the things I like the river and the buildings surrounding it and the orchids. Fabulous.

The books that came this last week were

The Marriage Game

Elizabeth I. Sex, intrigue and romps! Courtesy of Edelweiss.

Six and a Half Deadly Sins

Laos 1979. New setting for me. Also from Edelweiss.

The Snail Man

Mystery novel. Amazon download.


Reading the last in the trilogy of the Love at Pemberley series. This was ideal reading for the plane ride!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Very short review! The Diary of a Pissed Off Flight Attendant

I went into this book hoping that it would be a light hearted read of the life of a flight attendant. It was not!

The tone was snarky, and I always felt that the author was condescending and patronizing towards her passengers. That was my personal feel on this book.

This was sent to me by Net Galley via Smith Publicity. Thank you for sending both this and The Fragrance Shed by a Violet very quickly after my request. The other book sent by them was very good.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This was a book I read about on Serena's blog. Stories set in Asia draw me in - maybe because I live here and this kind of one set in a family of mixed race is one of the best. Stories such as this gives you an insight into how different people live, their way of life despite living cheek and jowl by each other for centuries may be so different as to be almost different countries. 

We have Agnes just seventeen, still schooling but mature and able to understand the problems facing her family. Aristocratic they may be but they are so poor that economies are constantly having to be made just to survive. Living in a crumbling palace, leaky and falling down upon their ears they still maintain in a diminished way their position in local society. Their only income in the small pension her British grandfather gets and an income from three boarders.

Only from the discussions of music and style does one get the feeling that the story is set in the 1920s. You get the colonials who are still ruling the roost in Asia and everyone being quite subservient to them but these are all about to change and you feel it in the air. Agnes is quite naive however - she is the only youngster in a household of older people and quite protected as a young Muslim woman. Her knowledge of the world of men is limited and so she is prey to her feelings and emotions very much like any teenager is at any time anywhere. Agnes or Aggie as she was known matured and grew from an unaware teenager to someone whose wits were very much in focus by the end of the story.

This is a coming of age story. In exotic surroundings which added to the allure and set against the political turmoil that is Asia.  I was extremely glad that Netgalley sent it to me courtesy of their publishers Lake Union Publishing. 

The Englishman. Can love go the distance? by Helena Halme

The Englishman: Can Love Go the Distance?

I found this book recommendation on a blog and was intrigued by the title. Inter cultural marriages are very interesting and the blurb piqued my interest more.

A Finnish girl, very young, very insular meets up with an English navy officer working on a submarine at a cocktail party in Helsinki. It is a chance meeting and one of those times which is a real karmic one! if she hadn't gone this story would not be here. A developing attraction between the two continues over the years with him always on his submarine and she at University trying to finish her degree. They meet intermittently either in Helsinki or she flies to London. They meet each others families - she is nervous of meeting his clan, he isn't and is not put off by her overbearing father.

The story of the contrast and conflicts in culture is described very well in between the meetings and the love story which develops and this is what adds a lot of interest to the book. It is quite true that there has to be a lot of give and take in such marriages from simple things like food and drink to social habits. If one is adamant about not giving up on anything or not accepting anything "different" I would say the relationship is doomed.  That the young couple here was flexible was the first plus point and you knew that there seemed to be a future for them both.

Long distance relationships are put under more pressure than any other and this one gets more than its fair share. The ups and downs of this relationship alongside the misunderstandings that arise when one is far apart are handled nicely in this book.

Enjoyed this light read which was a free download from Amazon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Siege by Arturo Perez Reverte

Cadiz 1811. The setting is a new one for me and even the period of history and the details of history involving this part of the world was very new.

A story of history, murder and a thriller plus a very tender love story. It made for a very compelling read. 

I could say that this was a very masculine book with its stories of war and gore, murder and betrayal but at the same time the romance that blossomed between the lady and her corsair was a very moving one.  That it could have no proper happy ending was par for the course but it did not take away from its appeal.

The Spanish city has been surrounded by Napoleon for over a year. The French hope to subdue the Spaniards by sheer force of numbers into submission. That it does not succeed is due to the stubbornness of the Spaniards who are determined not to give in. At the same time a serial killer seems to be let loose and the Police Commissioner has to sort this out sooner rather than later because the city will become a frenzy of hysteria if the manner of the killing of these very young women ever get out.

This story is very quick, very well written and holds your interest throughout. Despite its overall focus on the military the book will appeal to all.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Random House Publishing Group - Random House. Thanks for introducing a new author to me who held my interest throughout the book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

Fiercombe Manor

The story is told in two narratives. There is Elizabeth and her haunting tale of yesteryear and there is present day Alice. The main character of the story is however the house. Fiercombe Manor is definitely center stage.

The present day is 1933. Alice's mother is only concerned of "what will people say". Her daughter's feelings are very secondary. As it is she is anxious that her daughter is unmarried, despite the fact that she is educated, earning a good wage and also supports the family. The fact that level headed Alice is now pregnant, the man is married and a solution has to be found and quickly. Despatched to the care of Mrs Jhelps, a housekeeper at Fiercombe Manor who was a girlhood friend of her mother's with a fabricated story of a dead husband, Alice finds herself a mother in waiting for the pregnancy to finish.

We then go back to the other part of the story. Elizabeth Stanton is the lady of the Manor. She is beautiful, loved but everything is not as it seems. The lady is pregnant (after several miscarriages) and the birth of a healthy daughter Isabel who seems to count for almost nothing as she is not the son that her father Edward is yearning for. Added to that tragedy is the fact that after Isabel's birth, Elizabeth developed a melancholia which would today be diagnosed correctly but which at that time (not so long ago) was considered madness and ladies like this were confined to private asylums with the most ridiculous regimes.

The fact that Elizabeth came out of the regime relatively unscathed is due to her strong will to survive and be a mother to Isabel. However her pregnancy has brought about her feelings of inadequacy to the fore, so much so that she is dreading the birth. She feels very much that it is another girl and that Edward is going to be furious. She also knows that the "blackness" will descend on her when it is a girl. Her miscarriages of boys has not brought on the same depression.

Alice whilst staying at the Manor comes across Elizabeth's diary and also ventures into areas of the Manor which Mrs. Jelps has strictly forbidden as being too dangerous for her. Alice has curiosity about the past of the Manor which goes way beyond what would be considered normal for an absolute outsider. Coming into contact with Tom, the sole survivor of the Stanton clan does not help either because she is also attracted to him.

How the story unravels a bit by bit, and how it ends with both Alice and Elizabeth being at peace with the past is very nicely told.

This book was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

Mailbox Monday comes around so very fast!


Both courtesy Netgalley.


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Reading this one right now.

About Face

The weekend was very good. Not so much of reading done but the weather in Ginigathhena was cool, misty and not hot at all. I hated to leave last night but work is in Colombo and I have to return. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Bishop’s Wife

This was a "culturally challenging" read (for me that is). I knew and still know very little about the Mormon faith. Lot of it as depicted in this book and given in much detail is difficult to accept or handle but that is neither here or there.

The story is narrated by the Bishop's wife - she stands slightly apart in this story - as if relating the story from a distance. She is not part of the common ground of the Mormon church, I felt, despite her husband being a bishop who is trying to protect and guide his flock in very difficult circumstances.

A member of the parish goes missing. The husband is suspect. There is also a little girl left behind. Husband's father is belligerent at best and rude most of the time. The wife's parents first come across as being very protective of their daughter. Further revelations reveal abuse of the most horrible kind. When her body is discovered and when the media descends on this town the community has to dig deep to find the courage to support one of their own.

There is a lot of Mormon ritual and daily life described in the book. Apart from being wedded together for eternity and so much more I felt the book went on and on too much of every aspect of Mormon life, apart from the  story that it was meant to depict.

The book is aimed I think at non Mormons to gain a wider audience. In that way it was a success as it certainly educates one on the workings of a normal Mormon home. 

This was a book which was sent to me by Edelweiss

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller

The Measure of Katie Calloway (Michigan Northwoods, #1)

This was a free download from Amazon and was a light, romantic read with a lot of descriptive detail thrown in of a hitherto unknown subject for me!

The world of lumber and how the whole system operates is done in great detail in this book. Strangely enough it is not dull or boring. The author has made it so alive and interesting that even though the main story is about Katie, the background of lumber is very much alive.

Katie is in an abusive relationship. Getting out of it is no easy task for women of this era. After a particularly bad night, she escapes taking with her her eight year old brother and a bag of coins. After considerable adventures, she becomes the cook at a lumber camp and even reading about the food she turns out is mouth watering. From flapjacks to doughnuts for breakfast to apple and peach pies and in enormous amounts to feed the appetites of these hard working men was no easy task and Katie falls to it with a will.

On the sidelines of course is the villain of the piece, her husband Harlan who is determined to find her and take her back home. He feels that she is his ruination, and though he did try to murder her once and marry a rich widow - he still wants her back. The other suitor is the owner of the camp who is unaware of Katie's chequered past.  

Set at the time of the end of the Civil War in America with destruction widespread, so many homes without their husbands and brothers, this story was a very compelling one, despite its airy tone.

Enjoyed very much the details of how a camp operates and how this industry first started in America.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meeting Rozzy Halfway by Caroline Leavitt

This was a tough one to read. A very normal family of mother, father and two daughters and what happens when one of them is stricken with mental illness of a psychotic kind. 

Rozzy is the apple of her father's eye. He thinks the world of her when she is born, and believes she is capable of greatness. His ambition for her is boundless. When Bess is born, she comes a poor second for the father and this is apparent throughout the book. But what does Ben do when his bright star turns out to be really ill. He locks her out of his mind and heart, as if she did not exist at all, showing no care, love or remorse for her.

The story of Rozzy and how her faithful sister tries at every turn to protect and help her so that she does not fall into even greater trouble than she tends to do is a greater part of this book. At the same time Bess is embarrassed by Rozzy's illness and the negativity that surrounds both of them as a result. Not relying on either their mother and father, the sisters try to manage their affairs on their own. Bea the mother seems also distant, not really a part of the crisis though she certainly feels more than Ben. Bea herself seems to be someone who takes the path of least resistance so that she is on the fence all the time. She wants to be able to appease Ben at all times rather than to reach out to her daughter. 

It was a difficult read because it showed how human the family unit actually is and that everyone has their frailties which cannot be faulted in anyway. How the parents and sister had to handle Rozzy's illness and her behaviour in society and how each of them tried to at the same time get on with their own lives is not easy.  Ben's behaviour was horrible and I detested him. The mother came a close second.

Despite being a tough read the story was an excellent one, very well narrated.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of  Open Road Integrated Media.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?

Coming very late on Monday night!

          Cover of: Comfort me with apples by Ruth Reichl  

The first is from Netgalley and the second from Open Library (waited twenty days for this one!)

About Face    Gracie (Women & War #1)      

The Other Girl

All three Amazon downloads free.

The following are wins from the author herself.

Most Truly (Love at Pemberley, #1)      Miss Darcy Decides (Love at Pemberley, #2)     Miss Bennet Blooms (Love at Pemberley, #3) 

Series is Love at Pemberley and I got all three of them!


Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The Abbot's Agreement (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, #7)

Medieval part of English history and we are dealing with a surgeon Sir Hugh. So far very nice.

Monday was a holiday in Sri Lanka due to the Haj festival. Came back to Colombo after a long weekend out of home and now rushing to finish this!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple, #5)

A strange notice appears in the local paper - a murder is to take place at 6.30 p m at Miss. Blackstone's house. The local populace is quite in an uproar as to what is actually happening - they presume its a murder party and though no one is specifically invited, everyone trots around on some excuse or the other, other than the Vicar's wife who is simple and straightforward.

Miss. Blackstone thinks the announcement is in bad taste, Dora who lives with her is frightened and the young cousins who also live with her think its a hoot. The time comes, everyone is assembled with sherry and pastries, the electricity goes off, there are a couple of shots and when the lights come back, a young man is found dead.

This is where Miss. Marple on the invitation of the Inspector comes in. As usual, with a very gentle air and seemingly unaware of anything happening around her, Jane Marple follows a system of deduction and observation closely and results are always assured.

Of course one never will guess who the murderer is, the reasons (always convoluted and complicated) for the murder and that is the beauty of Agatha Christie.

As usual loved the book.

This was a download from Open Library.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Missing One by Lucy Atkins

The Missing One

Some people want to know their history, their ancestors, who did what, from where they came. For Kali it was always hidden - the history of her mother and father and who was she. Her mother seemed to have a side of her which was hidden, and which she did not want to divulge. All Kali knew was that her grand parents were dead. Her mother was a housewife and her father an accountant who was always busy and away from home and could not be bothered very much with questions from his daughter. Kali also felt that her parents specially her mother favoured her sister Alice over her and that she was almost an oversight. Not a very pleasant start for Kali who is now a mother of a toddler and who is determined not to make the mistakes that her mother made.

With her mother's death from cancer, Kali wants to unravel her past. She comes up against so many obstacles, so much of hidden history and so much of enigmatic questions with no answers. Taking the toddler with her she leaves her husband Doug, whom she suspects of having an affair and flies to Vancouver to meet up with someone called Susannah who has sent post cards to her mother for thirty seven years. She does not contact anyone before hand but just turns up first in Vancouver and then drives herself to a very remote area of Canada to try to find out anything about her mother.

On this remote island she soon realizes that she has made a mistake but there is no way out of the island as bad weather has set in and no one will venture out on these seas. When Susannah takes her baby son and flees to another island Kali realizes that this is now a fight to the death for not just her survival but also of the survival of baby Finn. 

How family secrets can endanger the family itself and whether these should be aired and discussed once children are of an age of understanding may be a good question for a book club. Should these secrets be hidden and hopefully die off?  

Very descriptive of isolated islands off the coast of Canada and specially about whales and orcas which was a major part of the story, this was a good one.

This was a a free download from edelweiss