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Monday, June 30, 2014

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


I have very good reads coming into my Mailbox.

The following are courtesy of Netgalley

                     





Courtesy of Open Library

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Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Am reading Stealing Venice and finding it very good reading. Halfway through.

Today was out of Colombo. Just returned. Our property was full of this!

                


These are known as Rambuttan trees - and it is the season for this. The fruit is delicious and once you start eating you can't stop!                    




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mystery at the Manor a Cherringham cozy crime book and Never Miss a Chance (Regency Romance)

Cherringham: Mystery at the Manor (Cozy Crime, #2)

The second book I am reading (of a series) set in Cherringham.  Jack is our retired American detective and Sarah is our local girl, who somehow get involved in anything fishy involving a death in Cherringham. I liked the first book, this second one did not do anything very much for me. It was a short read and pleasant. Fairly routine. 

This was a free download from Netgalley courtesy of Bastel Entertainment.




Never Miss a Chance (Kellington, #2)


This was an Amazon free download.

Regency England  - a duke's daughter who is supposed to be above scandal. Marcus, the Marquis of Everton  has been in love with her for years and when she gets into a scrape he offers her a way out by way of marriage which will still all the wagging tongues. 

A nice romance with a touch of humour and all the complications of Regency England. 

Now that I've read I think all of Georgette Heyer I am looking for substitutes!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty

The Bone Church: A Novel


I know its sometimes childish but I am a sucker for covers. This was one of the reasons I chose this from an Amazon free download! Another is the WWII connection. I seem to drift towards those stories of both WWI and II. Somehow the family stories, the emotions, the history of that era seems to have had such a huge impact not just on people but on a way of life as well, changing generations of thinking almost overnight.

This was set in Prague (new to me) fugitive lovers who are forced by various circumstances to make new connections all in order to escape.  Felix and Magdalena have to escape but plot after plot fails. They then get involved in a plot to assassinate Goebbels who miraculously escapes. Magdalena is forced to separate from Felix and go in one direction  and Felix goes in another till they emerge to face their demons once again. 

The Nazi occupation as well as the Cold War in Czechoslovakia are both themes of the book. The anti Semitic feeling is very pronounced here and one that is also particularly felt by our couple. The story of mistrust, betrayal, support by unexpected people and the strong need for survival comprise the whole book.

A very strong read very forcefully told.  Very strong characterization and plots which are dark but hold your interest throughout.






Friday, June 27, 2014

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg


The story is basically that of survival of a girl in Afghanistan - seemingly one of the worst places to be born a woman. 

Afghanistan is a country where the birth of a son is heralded as one of good luck and where the birth of a daughter is one of misfortune. The daughter would not be a problem if there are sons but if it is only a family of girls it is not just the child that is unlucky, the mother is considered unfortunate and a disgrace and even the husband is pitied.  In this story, even very educated women accept blindly the fact that sons are the protectors of the family, the guardians of the family honor and the person who will look after them in their old age. So the son is important.

In this backdrop we have the strange phenomenon of a girl of the family being designated as a boy to all intents and purposes - from dress, mannerisms and behaviour till puberty when she has to revert to being a girl. From Azita to Mehran to Shukria to Zahra this journalist unravels the story which is not acknowledged or spoken about of how families adapt their girls to either provide the escort the sisters need or in many instances to provide the "magic" element that them being a boy brings on the family because subsequent pregnancies bring only boys. The story of bacha posh shows how this third gender live  unacknowledged in society and whose families simply accept that it is best for the family, uncaring of the psychological or physical effects on the child concerned. It is the family unit that is most important, the honor and position of the unit, not the individual which is of prime importance.

We follow Azita's path - a female parliamentarian who has to trod a very narrow path between her constituents, her illiterate husband and her four daughters. She is trying her best to provide something to her supporters, provide education and some kind of normalcy for her daughters and also pacify her husband and in laws with money and material comforts so that they would literally get off her back. 

This is a very emotional read and one that makes me extremely glad I was born Sri Lankan. Sons are liked in my part of the world but the female infanticide prevalent in parts of India are non existent, and the attitudes of Afghanistan do not exist at all. The book shows the spirit of the Afghan woman in the context of the war in Afghanistan - both Russian and American interventions doing almost nothing for women. How this situation could be prevalent today in the 21st century is a sad indication of the fact that somethings just do not change. That men themselves would want to keep their women in servitude and submission and be so cruel and unforgiving is difficult to both understand and accept but that this is the plight of a lot of women who have no recourse to either justice or even familial support. The latter was one I found very difficult to understand because once the daughter was married she was almost thought of as an outsider and someone else's responsibility. Despite Azita's mothers entreaties and opposition, there was nothing she could do in her daughter's case, as it became a case of either accepting her husband's orders or facing divorce herself.

A subject handled with sensitivity and discretion - understanding on her side of the inherent characteristics of the situation and the position of women and definitely not being judgemental on each individual case. 

This was a book sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Crown Publishing.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey



I am trying hard to mix my reads because I sometimes feel that I get so entrenched in one kind of read (particularly WWI and II) that the reviews seem to get a much of a sameness. Does this happen to other bloggers? 

Josephine Tey's mystery murders is a bit different. Also set in a gentler era it maybe a murder and quite a bit of mystery but it still seems to go at a much slower rate than more modern stories! Our Robert Blair is the hero of the piece. A plain country solicitor living in a small Midlands town, he is a position of respectability and comfort. He does conveyancing and umpteen number of wills and his only other interest is golfing with his cronies. He is also unmarried lives with an Aunt who looks after him so splendidly that the thought of marriage has hardly crossed his mind. Her dinners and baking are famous!

Marion Sharpe crosses his path in the most unexpected form when she and her elderly mother are accused of the bizarre - they are supposedly guilty of abduction of a sixteen year old, keeping her hidden in an attic and beating her black and blue. She has supposedly escaped from this prison, gone back to her parents and related the story. They have naturally gone to the police and hence the appearance of our Robert.

Robert does not want to take the case. He has no experience of criminal law and says so but Miriam is adamant. What follows is the story of meticulous deduction and follow up. The media blows the whole thing up to make it more scandalous than ever. The house called The Franchise is attacked, everyone looks askance at the Sharpe's, they are ostracized in the local tea room and the grocer and life seems to be very harsh. The girl looks and sounds so innocent, her recollection and description of the house and its contents so accurate that no one can even imagine that she was not an occupant of the house.

Despite the media hype and the way the people of the town react, very early on you do know what is going on. How Tey handles it is the clever part. The analysis of human behaviour and why we do what we do. How someone who can be very young and what you think of as being without life's experiences can act and react and behave the way they do is somewhat startling. The book is also very representative of a them and us attitude. Is it the era and the Englishness of it all? There is a sense of gentry and gentility and the working class, a feeling of a woman's place in the general scheme of things and that one should not get above one's station.

The book apart from the mystery/murder aspect was a whole story of a way of life. Looking at it from a contemporary angle it is somewhat difficult to swallow some preconceived notions but it was a fine piece of writing anyway.

The book was a download from Open Library.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow



The book was sent to me via Netgalley courtesy of the publishers Harper Collins UK. 

The story is a fascinating one. Told in two separate time frames a century apart we have similar circumstances and how one person handled it a century ago enables someone in the present context to handle a very similar problem.

Jess is a paramedic returned from a brutal tour of Afghanistan. She has trained to be one, her heart and soul is in her work and this is what she wants to do back at home as well. She did not account for the fact that despite the fact that she came home physically whole, mentally there is a big divide, a huge block that she has to overcome. She went into being a paramedic as her brother died due to someone not being there to help him when he was dying. Jess has managed countless situations and managed to save many but the one time she couldn't weighs heavily on her mind. She feels that her being "frozen" for a few minutes may have caused a person's death and this is what she cannot get over. 

Jess's mother has had a parcel of diaries of Rose her grand mother and never got around to reading them. On one of her escapes back to the comfort of home, Jess comes across them and on reading the diaries begins to see parallels between her life and that of Rose.  Rose married at 16 to Alfie who was 18 who then goes off to war.He comes back (one of the few) but loses his leg to an infection. Alfie's hearbreak, his difficulty in dealing with life, with his wife and also having to be a breadwinner drives him to drink, breaking up his family and leaving Rose in despair how to cope. 

Jess's inability to cope with her supposed failures also drives her to drink. She cannot work, gives up her job and is a wreck. She drifts through the days drunk, loses the love of her life Nate who cannot cope with her drunkard state, refuses to get counselling or help of any kind and drifts further and further into an abyss. 

1922 and the setting up of the Poppy Factory to make the emblem which today signifies our respect for all the soldiers who have given up their lives so that others may live becomes the saving grace for Alfie and Rose. Fast forward a hundred years almost and will the same institution be the saving grace for Jess. Offering help for her beleaguered mind as well as the practical solution of what to do next.

Sensitively told, extremely descriptive (I particularly liked the way the 1918 to 1922 period was described wartime and post wartime Britain) and the predicament of Jess which may be commoner than one thinks with the wars that surround us today. 

Glad I got the opportunity to read this book.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Provincial Lady in London - E M Delafield

The Provincial Lady in London


Delafield never fails to delight.  I love to read about life in this small English village with its quirky characters of the Vicar, more importantly the Vicar's wife, the very important Cook and housemaid (eternally giving notice and leaving) amongst others. 

Told in a diary form our lady is now a minor author and though the earnings are not that grand, the plans for the earnings are stupendous. How she balances her life juggling the roles of pacifying her husband Robert, handling the French governess and the Cook, diplomatic always in handling people of her parish (and in retrospect she always wonders why she is so hypocritical in her speech and why she doesn't tell the truth), and constantly living on the edge where her finances are concerned because she is constantly in the red. 

In this book our P L whose name we never find out, acquires a flat in London (almost without her knowledge) and lives in London whilst Robert lives in Devon. She meets up with her friends and literary acquaintances, is scandalised by the behaviour of some friends, annoyed at the high handedness of others, and angry at her weak mindedness in giving in to everyone. 

Full of humour and poking fun at all specially herself the read is very good. I am so looking forward to Provincial Lady in America.

Is anyone else having a problem with Blogger. My dashboard post only shows a single entry and none of the other posts are coming up.



PS - Blogger has sorted itself out!!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Triple Knot - Emma Campion


Girls from the royal family knew that they were just pawns in the marriage market. Sold to the most important, strategic mainly buyer. Joan was to be no exception. A cousin of Edward III whose wife is so protective of his interests, he is constantly at war and hence seeks what is most advantageous for himself and his heirs.

The fact that Joan is very attracted to Holland who is just a Knight is not even taken into account by the King or his family and for that matter even her mother. Her mother seeks protection not just for Joan but for their assets and properties and she knows that going against the King is the last thing Joan should do.

Joan is a headstrong young lady and enters into a betrothal with her lover who then goes to war. Subsequently she is forced into a marriage with Will and despite her protests that she is in all effect married to another, the marriage goes through.  To add to the complications, we have Edward her cousin madly attracted to her and determined that she would get married to him against all odds (his family for one thing).

The story is more about Joan than anyone else. Despite being set in very turbulent times - the Plantagenet era was anything but smooth sailing and we have to add the terrible plague which fell upon the country decimating the population. 

Joan was determined, beautiful and got her own way despite upheavals that came her way. I enjoyed the book very much, admiring Joan for her perseverance in what was very difficult circumstances - incarceration in a castle amongst others.

I however thought the cover slightly over the top and not in keeping with the history of the era. Maybe I am alone in this but covers do attract the reading public.

The book was sent to me courtesy of Netgalley via Crown Publishing. Thank you.

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



Mailbox Monday showcases what has been received by me.

The Divorce Papers

Wonderful read! This was courtesy of Blogging for Books.




The Provincial Lady in London


This book is courtesy of Open Library I find the cover singularly unimaginative! I have downloaded a digitalized version so I do not have covers etc but considering that her books are so descriptive and so detailed I thought people could have done much better than this!


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The meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. 

Am reading the Delafield which as usual is delightful.  Am also starting the Poppy Factory 


love the cover as well!

Am back at home for this week so maybe less reading than usual. Work calls! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Divorce Papers


Thanks to Blogging for Books for this copy. I like their system, you read one of their books, post the review and then ask for the next read. Helps in maintaining some kind of discipline (for me anyway!).

Sophie Diehl is a happy go lucky, clever 30 year old criminal lawyer in a small but modern law firm. The absence of a matrimonial lawyer to handle a divorce propels Sophie into the messy world of divorce with its problems of alimony, custody and what happens to Fido.

Mia thought she had a reasonable marriage of 17 years. Shocked into realizing that everything is not as smooth as it should be, she knows she can no longer be the simple wife. She has to fight for her corner and more importantly for eleven year old Jane -bewildered, frightened and feeling guilty that it is somehow her fault. Mia comes out of this with slight changes to her personality!

We go through chapter and verse of the Mia/Daniel divorce - quotes from the law books, inter department memos and the funny and stark correspondence between Mia and Sophie.  Bringing the nitty gritty of a messy divorce when there is a lot of money, property and assets involved (think fighting over one Persian carpet), the ups and downs following the saga was so nice to read about.

Meticulous in detail, very dry, tongue in the cheek humor, I loved this book. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Revenge and retribution by Anna Belfrage












As usual I don't seem to be able to put the image up. Again the cover is a bit lack luster. What's with covers? Fabulous stories, meticulous research and then a meh cover!


Alex has come back to the 14th century from the 21st but unlike other Time travel books we do not know anything of her 21st century life. She is more than happy in rural Maryland with her husband and large family surrounded by conniving rogues, hostile native Indians and a bigoted clergy.

Running the gamut of avoiding the equivalent of pirates who will stoop to everything to bring the Graham family down and boy how they succeed. Abducting Sarah, raping and physically abusing her to the utmost, then taking Matthew hostage and doing the same with him, killing another son. Losing another son Samuel to the Indians on a promise that Matthew had made a while ago and the ultimate personal danger to Alex where she is accused of witchery and black magic by her brother in law are more than enough for one book.

How all this is put together in a tale where you have to know how it is all going to end is what Anna Belfrage does and does very well. Despite the general gruesomeness and almost bestial behavior of some, the story keeps you enthralled. A family saga - of how we just go on, human survival against all odds.

This is the sixth book in the time slip series and I have got to it in the middle though this was a perfectly good stand alone read.

A book sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of publishers Silverwood Books. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas


   

This was an unusual book.   Dealing with the difficult subject of coping and living and being at peace with one's decisions in difficult circumstances.


Eileen and Ed are Irish American. They meet and marry and it is only after marriage that Eileen realizes that her American dream is not that exactly of her husband. She has drive and go and wants to see the benefit of hard work in a material form with comfort and assurance. Ed is willing to live the way he always did and sees no need for change. This is frustrating for Eileen who feels she has to cajole or maneuver to get what she wants.

In his very early 50s things are not quite right with Ed. It is apparent in small doses initially with his students, then with his son and finally with his wife. The early onset of Alzheimer's and the rapid deterioration of Ed forms the second half of the story.

How a family copes - and this family is far from perfect is what makes you empathize with all. Coping skills have to be found from some inner strength and one has to face life however difficult the situation may be. How they all manage despite setbacks, is very well handled by this author.

The story with its steady burden of sadness and the thread of practicality which ran throughout did not take away the fact that this was a refreshing read.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

True Vines by Diana Strinati Baur









For some reason images do not copy and paste the way they should do from my IPad. Also this cover is so dull and unimaginative for what was a very good story. Pity about that. Covers do entrance one and with this kind of story I am sure something more positive could have been done. (Will edit and put image when I get back home).

Starting with the death of Francesco, Meryl decides to ruthlessly cut all ties to her Italian family and life by marriage, moving back to Pennsylvania hoping that a fresh start can erase the heartache of her loss. We then go back to Meryl's own family - her very difficult  and unsupportive and racist father, her mother who blindly followed her father and Janie a much loved sister, who has turned out to be bitter and nasty.

Meryl's family history is convoluted. Neither sister got the love they longed for from their parents and when Meryl was betrayed by her bestest friend she felt that there was a conspiracy to hurt her in whatever way it could. Meeting Francesco, marrying him and moving to a village in Italy were decisions taken in the blink of an eye and repercussions noted later.

The story alternates between the vineyards of Northern Italy and Pennsylvania - so many strong characters contributing pieces to Meryl's journey. All of them relevant - Francesco's family in Italy, warm, welcoming and non judgemental, Janie and Bob her brother in law, loaded with financial problems of their own, but an integral part of Meryl's life , the physician who loved Meryl's husband and who lied in collusion with Francesco and who broke Meryl's heart and the boss at the barista who along with his daughter and her landlady who were able to pull Meryll from the abyss of her depression and make her live again. Also meeting up with her earlier lover and his wife (who was the best friend) put things in perspective for Meryl

How Meryl accepts Francesco along with his major shortcomings, his death and tries to live again is the story.

This was another read which highlighted pros and cons of living in another country, and adapting to a different way of life.

What I liked is that our characters are ever so human - all with major flaws which made for a realistic read.

I received this book from Netgalley through Gemelli Press. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

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



I've got some really good stuff in my Mailbox!

                       





Each of the above came as a result of a blogger recommending the read. The Liz Trenow book came about as I couldn't get the earlier one  which everyone raved about!


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Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.


Reading this, almost finished.




It is a book which is very impressive - it starts out very bright, cheery and spry and almost goes into a decline by the end but it is very realistic and very down to earth. Sad but not overly depressing. Living with a partner who has got early onset of Alzheimers and its getting bad fairly rapidly. Very well written.

I will be away from Colombo from tomorrow till Sunday so I do hope I will be able to post. I intend to do a fair amount of reading as well. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Murder at Sissingham Hall by Clara Benson

The Murder At Sissingham Hall (An Angela Marchmont Mystery #1)

Old fashioned murder mystery very much in the Agatha Christie style. I enjoyed it very much. This was a free Amazon download.

We have a country house - very much comfortable living with an elderly husband, a very much younger wife. The party for the week end comprises his nephew and wife (broke and eye on the main chance as being inheritors), the wife's ex lover, another brother and sister - the brother couldn't care less attitude and out to create trouble wherever he goes and Angela Marchmont our detective very much like Miss Marple only decades younger.

The elderly rich man gets murdered and the who dun it starts with lots of apparent clues though for once I was fixed in my mind who the killer was  (and I was right!)

Very countrified and I think typical of the time - both the attitudes of the young people and the old. Told in narrative form by Knox (he was the ex boyfriend by the way)  which was a bit confusing as Angela was supposed to be the star turn. Nevertheless a very nice mystery murder for a lazy afternoon which I enjoyed very much.

I am only sorry that Ms. Benson has not written anymore novels!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The House on the Lagoon - Rosario Ferre


This is a story about Isabel and Quintin and the history of a nation (Puerto Rico), the history and secrets of a family which slowly get uncovered through the writings of Isabel.

Set at a time when feelings of growing nationalism and independence are rampant, we have a family on the one side trying to cling to their original Spanish roots, maintaining the purity of their ancestry and bloodlines (very important to the old families), no mixing with other races and mixed breeding and trying to also maintain their old way of life amidst big changes.

There are two distinct dialogues throughout the story - one told from Isabel's side and one from Quintin. Both see the same situation from different points of view - their interpretations of past events are contradictory to each other though both think their point of view is the correct one. Quintin does not like the actual setting out of facts as it happened as he feels it puts his ancestors and family in a poor light whereas Isabel is only concerned about facts and figures not about the effect it would have on people long dead.

The book gives you an insight into Puerto Rican history and how the nation came about. Very descriptively written the writer herself Puerto Rican brings out the beauty of this state very well. My first read of this author with its distinct tones of poetry in the language used but not flowery or over the top. Beautifully done.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Native Air by Sarah Woodhouse


The Native Air 


I deliberately kept this cover image rather big as I thought it was rather nice. I am a sucker for good covers anyway.

Set in the 1800s in the elegantly genteel countryside of Norwich, we have a fair share of eccentric characters as well. Dr. Alexander French on home leave waiting a further assignment back to India which he loves is still in love with Ann, now a widow. We have Blackow Hall with an unusual mistress - the red haired, flamboyantly dressed Clodie M'Cool and her niece the luscious Julia who has sent tongues wagging in this conservative neighbourhood.  There is eight year old Cassandra seemingly unloved by her mother and with no one to take care of her running wild in the countryside. She is someone whom Dr Alexander takes a strong liking to. He is also unfortunately attracted to her mother like half a dozen males in the vicinity.

The community is also getting ready for Napoleon's invasion (very ineptly), there are kidnappings, chases and a romantic love story which has a lovely ending.! This was the third book of a trilogy in  which I've only read this one. It did not matter to me as a stand alone book as I liked it anyway.

These are only what can be described as gentle reads. It takes me anyway to a place which is quite serene and where the pace of life is slower. Life seems to be in the here and now and immediate needs and gratification seems what we look for. These books go at a much gentler pace and I do enjoy the contrasts.

I seem to be getting the older reads from Open Library (and a gorgeous selection as well) whereas the newer ones are coming from Netgalley. I like the mix of genres as it is keeping me well balanced! 

On a non book note we celebrated Poson Poya day (full moon day) yesterday.  It celebrates the arrival of Buddhism in this country in the third century B.C. Apart from religious observances a nice feature is that free food known as "dansalas" is offered to anyone walking or travelling the roads around Sri Lanka. Yesterday returning from an out of Colombo trip, I had ice cream cones twice, boiled chick peas with chilli and salt, rice and curry parcels given to take home and manioc tubers boiled with a sambal!!!! Years ago it used to be only rice and curry. Now people have got innovative and we have noodles to paratha to watermelon slices to fruit juices and coffee being offered to people. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport



From the beginning of this story, despite the aristocratic grandeur of its setting and the richness surrounding the family, you knew that somehow things were not going to end well.

We look at the last Royal family of Russia in detail. Backed up by heaps of letters, diaries, pictures and correspondence we have a very private but happy family composed of Nicholas and Alex the parents and their four beautiful daughters. The absence of a male heir was a huge bone of contention till Alexis was born. He was unfortunately sickly, a haemophiliac and was looked after with so much care and concern because the slightest fall or incident was enough to be life threatening. Alexis hovers over the story, an integral part no doubt but it is actually the four girls who gain our love and attention.

Four Princesses - all different all attractive and all serving the common man when the need arose when war broke out. The book does not focus just on their life as Princesses and the social and political appointments they undertook in that sphere. The book also looks at their family life which was so very simple and so far removed from what people actually thought royalty lived like.  They had strict routines for study, play, exercise and entertainment. Food was simple and there was none of the over glamorous atmosphere that one expected from such a court.

The story follows the life of the sisters and their parents through the harrowing times of the Revolution and to the very end in Ekaterinberg.  That the family expected exile of some kind but did not expect to be murdered so brutally was obvious. Sent to Siberia and then they thought to some country outside it was not to be. 

Despite the wealth of historical detail, this was a very easy book for anyone to read. You did not have to be a fan of historical fiction or an aficionado of Russian history to appreciate this book. This was a very readable book and a human interest story with a very much family saga despite it being on a royal scale. 

The book was sent to me via Netgalley by the publisher. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

at least you're in tuscany by Jennifer Criswell


I was sent this through Netgalley courtesy of Gemelli Press. I was drawn to the cover so congratulations to whoever chose this one! You certainly are drawn to those poppies.

A honest to God look at moving to a foreign country without proper support in place. A courageous move, a bit of a gamble. You have to be reckless like Jennifer to undertake a task of this kind. Very little language, just an enormous love for Tuscany and a romantic entanglement with the entire country. Looking at a country through rose tinted spectacles for a holiday is one thing, moving to the place, becoming a citizen (which is what she did) and then trying to find employment in the current climate were risks that only very few people and though I am fairly independent, this is a single woman going it alone there!

The story is very descriptively told. The yearning to be part of a community, the feeling of isolation that befalls Jennifer when she is excluded at times like Christmas, the gossip that a single female engenders in a country which is known for its love for women! Her American style of being open and easy is open to interpretation of being very free and easy and she has to learn to live this down, keep a lid on what she says and how she says it, knowing that it can be twisted to suit the amorous instincts of any male around. This was tough going for Jennifer and I felt for her most sincerely. 

Here was Jennifer just wanting to enjoy life to the fullest in a beautiful part of the world, make a few friends and become part of a community. Not so easy to actually do but that she went so far and very bravely too. In the face of repeated failures where getting a job without the proper paperwork was concerned especially, most people would be very nervous but though she was nervous for her to was a question of survival and she somehow did it. She finally got the paperwork through a very arduous process (Jennifer it is arduous anywhere in the world to get new citizenship papers. You are not alone in Tuscany!). 

I was also very interested how her parents reacted to her plight. Maybe it is the American way but it seemed so alien to question/grumble so much on the possibility of giving her a loan which she was definitely going to pay back (on the part of her parents) who could afford to give her some money to tide her over. The Italians could not understand this and neither could this Sri Lankan!!!!

I loved the easy going style of writing, a very conversational style which did not detract from the story or the descriptiveness of the very natural beauty that was Tuscany.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

When Camels Fly - N L B Horton (Book Tour)



When Camels Fly

Am proud to be part of the book tour for N.L. B. Horton's book When Camels Fly.


A mother's protective spirit is instinctive. Seeing her daughter in the hands of an abductor Grace Madison shoots to kill. Seconds later another rescuer comes to the scene and shoots the second killer.

The story is complicated and technical. Grace is an archaeologist happiest when she is on a "dig". Dragged into something beyond her ken by her daughter Maggie her protective instincts go on high alert because she realizes that her daughter is not just in danger of being killed but that her obstinate daughter is not going to listen to her either and get out of a bad situation.

The premise of the "stealing of water on a massive scale" in the Middle East using hydrology and science forms the backdrop of the story. Maggie is the hydrologist/scientist who has just discovered how beautifully this is being done to the detriment of some countries in the Middle East and to the bargaining advantage of one. Single handedly trying to stop this is a huge endeavour. Drawing on the support of colleagues and professors who are linked to intelligence services everywhere Maggie drags her mother into this very complicated plot.

Despite the use of science and diplomacy not to say terrifying suspense, the story magnifies the relationship between a mother and daughter at its most basic despite the sophisticated setting. There is also to balance everything a nice romantic element also drawn through the story which lightens the whole. 

Am very glad there is a sequel to this story.

I was part of the tour for this book. For further contributors on the tour please go to 
http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/norma-horton-author-of-when-camels-fly-on-tour/

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What are you reading? - coming a day earlier!



Still getting delightful reads courtesy of Netgalley 

            

and two wins

Black Chalk

courtesy of Luanne 


The End of Everything

courtesy of Stacy 

I was appalled at the postage costs on both books. I wonder whether I should stick to e-books because it is so unfair to pay such a lot for postage.

The following is a free download from Amazon.


The Murder At Sissingham Hall (An Angela Marchmont Mystery #1)



2a

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Reading the last book on my list by Clara Benson.

Set in a rather old fashioned setting of a country house we have a murder. Am just twenty percent through and enjoying it.

The weekend was busy but I did a lot of reading and finished two books. Back after going to Rozella - rain and cold. What a relief and now back to humid Colombo.





Friday, June 6, 2014

CRUISE by Suzanne Vermeer



Another book sent to me by Netgalley - publisher Open Road Integrated Media.

The story could not be more straightforward. Helene and Frank have a solid relationship. Married for 17 years, the couple have similar interests, a very good financial base, a lifestyle they like and seem perfectly content.

Frank arranges a cruise to celebrate their anniversary and they both look forward to this. Midway Frank disappears, presumed fallen overboard. Helene is distraught, returns home to discover to her horror that Frank had been in a homosexual relationship with Victor, a man from Nice and that a separate insurance policy had been taken on Frank's life as a gay couple and the company is definitely going to pay out to the survivor Victor as well.

Helen's suspicions are aroused. Frank was always a very conservative man, uncomfortable amongst anything unconventional.                                                    
A chance remark during a conversation with a fellow passenger on the cruise who were their dinner partners reconfirm to Heleen that something is not quite right. Unravelling the mystery however involves cross country road trips - first to Nice where her first tip takes her where she barely escapes with her life and then on to Blane's in Spain where she comes face to face with her husband and ready made family. Not just homosexual relationships, but one with a beautiful woman as well.

The story does not end with her escape from the now murderous husband but goes much beyond this time frame for years, with such twists in he tale which though fantastic whilst reading are all probable and extremely do able!

This is not just a story of a clever, scheming, adulterous, murderous, conniving bastard of a husband. It is also a story of a warm, compassionate, clever and strong woman who did what was right.

Very unusual read.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan Wilsey



Set in the 1890s we have a distinct sense of upstairs downstairs. Even in America! The rich and snobbish can be extremely snobbish and these so called aristocrats of New York society are very much so.

Harriet is a travelling secretary and also a private detective who has previously solved a murder single handedly. She likes to keep that part of her life private and continue to work as a secretary because she knows that no one will employ her if they know of what they would consider an unsavoury past. 
Harriet comes to work for a wealthy Rhode Island family and whose matriarch has such a busy social life that Harriet does not have any free time at all. For Harriet the slights and annoyances of the job are par for the course - she just wants to get ahead and also find the time to enjoy a relationship with her boyfriend.

All is not well though on this social circuit - there is tension amongst workers because there is a trade unionist in the area who is inciting workers to rebel against their employers. This is especially so for domestic workers who seem to have no rules or regulations on their working hours, time off or conditions of work. The movement is just beginning but seems to have some kind of support from within the big houses.  When a very rich man is found murdered clutching a trade union  pamphlet in his hands all signs seem to pinpoint to the trade unionist as being the murderer.

Hattie begins to see that this is not the case but a red herring to throw everyone off the real culprit whose reason for murder is much more scandalous.

This book was different in that our Hattie was courageous, outspoken and determined to speak up when necessary - all characteristics not admired in a woman of this period. She did not care for what was public opinion but only felt that what she did was right. Historical detail was descriptively dealt with in this story as well. 

Thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Tangled Web - L M. Montgomery


Something like Romeo and Juliet we have the Dark and Penhallow families. Two distinct tribes almost, having continuous running battles, arguments, disagreements and condescension over each other in the 20th century.

Petty and childish at most times, humourous and nice to read about. Must have been agony to be in one of the families though.

Aunt Becky - brash, wicked, opinionated and one always wanting to stir the pot has announced that she is now going to die. Of course we all are but she has plans. She organizes a levee and everyone from both sides want to attend because everyone has greedy eyes on an infamous jug that is valuable.  All want to know to whom she is going to give this jug to. We have valuables as well - a bed which is being eyed covetously, a diamond ring, a bottle of Jordan water but it is the jug which is the cynosure of all eyes.

Of course it would'nt be a story unless Aunt Becky lays down conditions. At the levee where everyone is grinding their teeth in anticipation, anger and disgust she lays down rules and regulations. To add insult to injury she says she has changed her mind and that it is only after one year that one particular Dark will announce who is to get the jug. She also says that she will not necessarily nominate the person that Dark may also nominate and choose who will be the ultimate winner of the jug. Everyone is now in a worse quandary than before. Now they have to please another person to get the blasted jug.

At this point I wondered why did everyone want this jug but by now it had become a point of honour that each one felt that they were the one who should be the proper receipient of this jug. The story goes on in perambulations and  coils of stories within stories till the final ending which was very just!

The story is not for everyone but for laughing at human foibles and especially at those for whom "what will people say" is important - this is the book. I picked the author up from a fellow blogger and got this book through Open Library.