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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Miss Darcy Decides and Miss Bennet Blooms by Reina M. Williams. Short Reviews.

Miss Darcy Decides (Love at Pemberley, #2)


Georgiana in the original book comes across as being quite under the spell of her brother Darcy. Here we find her surprisingly having a will of her own and quite able to hold her own against her brother and family in her choice of husband. A love story which ends happily against the odds.

A win from the author.






Miss Bennet Blooms (Love at Pemberley, #3)


Mary is the proverbial spinster aunt who is destined to live out her days either fetching and carrying for her grumbling Mother who never appreciated her and the father who ignores her and living with her married sisters who will call her whenever there is a need.

In this story however Mary is very much loved and looked after by her married sisters Lizzy and Jane and Kitty who have her best interests at heart and despite her mother's attitude they do want the best for Mary and Mary does find love at Pemberley in the form of Nathaniel Bingley. 

A win from the author and the final story in the trilogy.






Friday, November 28, 2014

Chamber Music by Doris Grumbach


This was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of the publisher Open Road Integrated Media.


Caroline is ninety and looks back on her life, especially her married life with a world famous music composer. Very matter of fact and written starkly the emotional feel of Caroline's feelings come through very strongly without the gushing sentiment.

Robert is a clever man but with many eccentricities that the naive Caroline as a young woman cannot see and does not understand till very much later. She adopts an attitude of servitude to him, giving in to his needs, his orders and most importantly his way of life. Everything seems subject to this.

Caroline goes from a sheltered childhood to this life as a wife - a wife more in name than in anything else. Her passionate feelings only surface with the finding of a companion who comes in as a nurse when Robert is dying and this relationship is the only bright spark in her life. Caroline comes to life during this phase of her life story and the contrast of this short period as against her previous life seems so bright and vivid as against the dullness of all that goes before.

A bit slow at the beginning this is a story you have to persevere at, the rewards of reading this is right at the end.




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Privileged Children by Frances Vernon


This was a recommendation from Fleur and was an extremely lucky find on Open Library.

A debut novel from a prolific author my first read of this writer as well. Diana Molloy is unconventional, bohemian and her daughter Alice knows no other world. She follows suit. With the death of her mother from tuberculosis Alice is surprisingly sent to live with a conventional couple - he a curate and his wife who are rather perplexed as to how to deal with a young girl who is so different from their world.

Alice escapes this restricted world and comes back to the world she knows and in which she is comfortable. She has learned from her mother how to manipulate people, particularly men and plays on this and her sexuality to her advantage. It is not financial only but even for just personal satisfaction.

The story is unconventional for the time, the dialogue is very straight forward and the characters are brisk and no nonsense. There is nothing wishy washy about this novel.

Looking forward to more finds from this writer. Thanks Fleur for the recommendation. 




Monday, November 24, 2014

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



Good books this week as well

          



These two from Netgalley



Could not find a better cover image for this delightful short story collection. Sixteen stories put together. From Open Library.

Deadly Adagio

From the author herself.

Two books from edelweiss above the tree line

Whisper Beach

and Orphan Number Eight for which believe me or not I cannot find an image for!


Voices Echo

This was a win from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours 


Quite a happy mailbox!

2a

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading Voices Echo and Family Matters. Two widely different reads so I am never bored. One set in Jamaica and one in war torn England. Both so different styles of writing as well. 






Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney


This was my first read of Monica McInerney. Will not be my last. A book sent to me via Netgalley after I read a review of this one on a blog. I am so glad I got this one.

Set in the outback of rural Australia, all wide open spaces, paddocks and absolutely no people we have Angela English born and bred adapting beautifully to life in this corner of Australia, married to the love of her life and with four grown up children. Everything seems perfectly placid on the surface that is. Until everything blows up in everyone's face.

Angela has done a round robin letter each Christmas to all friends, relations, acquaintances and business colleagues. It outlines the usual happenings of the Gillespie family year around. This time around something happens to Angela.Without sugar coating she outlines the actual/factual happenings of the Gillespie clan. It ranges from the sordid to the wicked includes extra marital flings, supposed affairs with married men, whingeing adult children, strange son with an imaginary friend at 14 (should have outgrown that one!), the difficult aunt who always descends on them during Christmas. It goes on and on. Made for extremely interesting reading as long as it did not describe your family. We all have them but very few of us would be so honest as Angela in detailing them!!!! 

Due to an emergency, the email was left open on the computer and Angela's husband knowing how important this Christmas newsletter was for Angela sends it out on December 1st. When the trickle becomes a river of interest from everyone, Angela realises the cat is out of the bag. The family itself other than the Aunt is totally unaware of happenings and now it is Angela's turn to bell the cat and come clean.

Added to the convoluted happenings of the Gillespie family is added drama with accidents, mental fugue on the part of Angela, a scam in which Nick is duped all add to the "side" happenings in this family saga.

This was a humorous read. I liked the actual poking of fun at myself and mine very much in this book. Honest reading!

Thank you Penguin Group Berkeley for sending this through Netgalley. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Most Truly by Reina M. Williams

Most Truly (Love at Pemberley, #1)


Book One in the Love at Pemberley series, I won all three books from the author herself.

Colonel James Fitzwilliam has returned home after the war. He is lonely and knows that he should now settle down at home. His parents and Lady Catherine have ideas in this field and hope that a match will materialise between Anne and himself. He himself has no feelings other than that of a brother towards Anne. His own brother Alfred however has feelings for Anne but they do know that a battle would commence the moment they make their wishes known.

James did not envisage meeting Kitty Bennett, Lizzy's younger sister at Pemberley. She is making an extended stay at Pemberley as Lizzy is now pregnant with the couple's first child. Kitty is innocent, fresh and very appealing to James.

A very simple straight forward love story which was a pleasant interlude in between the heavier stories.  I also liked how the house Pemberley is so beautifully described alongside the gardens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

About Face by Carole Howard

About Face

Ruth has worked in the Peace Corps in Africa alongside her friend Vivian years ago. Now married and with a son she is working in the corporate world, the very antithesis of what her ideals were twenty years before.

A chance encounter with Vivian and her husband Carlos bring it all back with Carlos constantly hinting at what she has left behind and the loss of ideals of helping out the lesser privileged. Added to that is Jeremy at work who has taken over her division with his own ideas and more importantly his main view of ousting her out from her position in the company.

Working in the cosmetics industry is a high powered job. It is also a job which focuses on youth and the young and the wanting to look young. In a moment of revelation Ruth comes out with an idea which is revolutionary. A make up look which will suit the middle aged. Not trying to look younger. Just looking their age gracefully and beautifully. It does not initially go down well and Jeremy is trying to use this to bring down Ruth and then get her out of his office. 

Further plans in the offing materialise with Vivian and Ruth brainstorming and another successful business is born. 

The story with a backdrop of West Africa and present day Manhattan is more a story of the friendship between women and the ties that bind. Both husbands are just secondary to the story!
It also looks at middle age with a tongue in the cheek humour which is very likable.

This was a free download from Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff


WWII stories are always emotional. Always they seem to bring back memories not always of a good kind but the stories have to be told as they are so much a part of history. 

This is a very short story - a prequel to the novel The Winter Guest. 

Maria is recently married, finds out she is pregnant but is all alone. She does not fit in with her inlaws who seem to just tolerate her existence in their house. Her own home is just a few doors away but she is estranged from her father and now she feels that he is a traitor who betrays those in their village for personal gain. 

The problem of plain survival is uppermost in everyone's minds in this small village in rural Poland and finding a Jewish runaway is not an ideal situation for Maria who is herself bereft and alone. Befriending this girl and trying to help her in the face of her fathers betrayal shows the strength of Maria's character. 

I was very disappointed that the novel ended so abruptly as I do not know when I would get to The Winter Guest. This was a very good story as opening chapters.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

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


This weeks Mailbox!


Private Papers


This was from Open Library.

              


These are from Netgalley


2a



Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading



I am still in the part of rural Palestine and enjoying this simple family story very much. 

On another note my son has returned home after almost fifteen months. Nice to have him around. The house seems very full of hustle and bustle!





Friday, November 14, 2014

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones (History fans - this is a must read)


The year is 1748 and the time is bad, very bad for women everywhere. 

Caridad is a former slave who accompanies her master to Sevilla in Spain from Cuba. En route he dies and fortunately gives the girl her freedom. A freedom she knows nothing about. She has no idea how to live as a "free" person. She does not even consider herself as a person. Not even a chattel. She does not consider that she is worth anything - an animal in her opinion is worth more than her. 

This story is about Caridad and how she eventually throws in her lot or rather her lot was thrown in with her with the gypsies of Sevilla. Her chance encounter with them changes her life for not just her but also for Melchor who pities the woman and takes her back to his village. Much to the amazement, disgust and anger of his fellow gypsies Melchor takes her under his wing not for any ulterior motives but out of simple human goodness. He himself cannot understand why he does this but it is one of those inexplicable happenings which change life for both of them and also for the clan from which Melchor comes.

Intertwined with these two characters we also have the very forceful character of Ana and Jose - Ana the daughter of Melchor who has a constant battle with her husband and divided loyalties of whom to choose - father or husband. Her daughter Melagros whose beauty and sensuousness is not a blessing but a curse eventually leading to her almost total destruction. 

Historically fascinating as it reveals a period of history in Europe and Spain in particular where the gypsies are reviled, persecuted and hunted for over 150 years. The sadness of the story is enormous. But, you cannot put this book down. I am not one for sad stories but this was historical sadness on an epic scale. 

The courage, boldness and pride of the gypsies may have been their own downfall because this is what caused outsiders to dislike them. Their inability to integrate and become part of the common populace was their major drawback and this drew the ire of the aristocracy and the Emperor at the time. His edicts were far reaching and inhuman. It made the aristocracy not just cruel, but sadistic as well. 

Another over riding feature of this era was the treatment of women. There was virtually no position for women anywhere and if you did find a father who was fond of his daughter, the fondness or love was governed by dictates of the time. Melchor was different for his times and this set him apart. No one born in present day times would hanker to be a woman in the 1700s, even if you were aristocratic or from the king's family. 

The book was a fabulous read for me. I found it unput downable!

Sent to me via Netgalley for an honest review and through its publishers Crown Publishing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twelfth Night at Longbourn by Maria Grace

Twelfth Night at Longbourn (Given Good Principles)


I won an Amazon gift card and this was my first purchase. I read about this book on Diary of an Eccentric and liked the review there.

Kitty is a bit of a whiner for me. She seems to be constantly whingeing about her fate after Lydia's infamous elopement. It has left her socially bereft. Her only friends seems to be the Lucas's and even here Maria pretends that she needs something urgently whenever she sees Kitty. Being offered a chance to go to Pemberley seems a god sent opportunity to just get away from the salacious gossip of the town and the nervous breakdown of her mother. Her father seems just indifferent. Only Lizzy could understand him and get him to smile.

Enroute to Pemberley with Miss Darcy and her new companion, Kitty encounters fresh problems. Miss Darcy is not compliant, polite in company and her companion rules that she is not fit to grace the august assemblies at Pemberley. Does this mean that Kitty goes back home? A fresh adventure awaits her with the Bingley's opportune arrival and Mr. Bingley offers to escort her along with his sister as chaperone back to Pemberley. The Bingleys have problems of their own with the behaviour of their sister Caroline so they have mutual stuff to grumble about!

Now it gets to the fairy tale part which was a bit too cloying for me. A pleasant read however. I like PP variations in whatever form. This was a good one and gave one of the hitherto ignored sisters a good airing. Why should Lizzy have all the fun?



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Comfort me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table


I didn't read the first book in the series - this one is the second and it was a download from Open Library. Had to wait twenty days for this one! But it did not matter as the sequel was very interesting as a stand alone. 

A memoir of good food, life and love of Ruth Reichl we enter the world of the restaurant critic. Having just embarked on this career which is a heady one (can't think of anything better than being allowed to eat at the best restaurants!) Reichl's book is a mix of beautifully descriptive food and meals interspersed with her personal life and marriage.

If you like good food, this is definitely one for you. Interspersed with receipes which one would certainly like to try - some of them simple ones this is a book for anyone who likes good food and restaurants.

Honestly written about her loves and her marriage as well, this is a very warm book.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Simon's Fel by P R Page



The cover is what actually drew me in. I am a sucker for pretty covers. The book did not disappoint either.

Lissy has been in an abusive relationship but her husband has died and for the last two years she has lived in a state of limbo. Not only her husband but her mother was a cold hearted, difficult woman who got together with Lissy's husband to manipulate and control Lissy to do exactly as they wanted. 

When Lissy finally awakens to the fact that she is not just free, but also quite independently wealthy she pursues her dream of a purchase of a cottage in the country. Moving to this little village, she sets about the complete renovation of her dream home and eventually moves in. Meeting a fellow villager who seems strange at the onset as he is antagonistic over the fact that she purchased the house as he too was trying to buy this, Lissy is at the same time very attracted to Simon. This is a feeling which is new to her as she was wary of all men. 


Lissy also finds a niche in the village - having found good friends who are supportive and caring, things which upto now were not part of her life.  The story unravels rather predictably but it was a very pleasant read for a holiday.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley via Troubador Publishing Ltd.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

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



The mail was good to me!

A Season for Martyrs     Daughters     The Snow Garden   



The Idea of Perfection


I like this mix of genres.

2a



I'm reading the Bina Shah book and have almost finished it. Excellent reading. I did read Benazir Bhutto's autobiography years back and found it fascinating - I found this book equally so. The centuries of history behind a particular person which has moulded Benazir Bhutto and made her what she was, was as good as the story.  Coming from a feudal family of Sindhis from a particular area of Pakistan and the history of that community is in itself a very good story.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Abbot's Agreement by Mel Starr



The opening line in this one was a real eye catcher and it would be one which very few readers could resist. Especially if you are mystery book reader.

The book is one of a series written about Hugh a surgeon amongst other things in medieval England. The story revolves around an abbey and the vicious death of one of its young inmates. Seemingly random without an agenda Hugh and his sidekick Arthur on delving further find hidden motives amongst the occupants of the abbey, a young pretty woman in the neighbourhood and several young men outside the abbey all who could be responsible for the murder.

The who dun it was a simple story of deduction and method as to who the actual murderer was but the attraction in the story was also its writing and descriptive detail of how life was lived at that time in England. Slow paced but well written I enjoyed this book.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What you left behind - Samantha Hayes


The nightmare of parents is happening in the village of Radcote. A spate of teenage suicides happened two years ago. Seemingly random, it has raised alerts within the police community and when a young man is found dead by his motor cycle with a suicide note by his side, alarms are raised amongst many.

Freddie is young, vulnerable and unusually quiet. When his aunt Detective Lorraine Fisher comes for a vacation she realises that everything is not quite what it seems. Her sister has separated from her partner and whether this was the cause for Freddie's despair is also a possibility as Malc and the boy were unusually close. Unknown to the adults Freddie is a victim of  bullying and he does not know how to face up to his tormentors.  Although one other teenager is aware of what Freddie is going through, Lana is not going to come out with the truth as she feels that it will precipitate major problems both within her family and out, especially since once of the boys who committed suicide is her brother.

I could identify so much with Freddie - his wanting to just reveal all what he was hiding was so strong within in and at the same time he was terrified of what he had uncovered. He did not know whom to turn to and did not know what to do next. The dilemma of teenagers all over the world. What should one do, or should one try to be an adult and just deal with it.

A mystery thriller with elements of a family story as well. Secrets within a family well hidden and what happens when cracks appear and the whole sorry tale bursts out.

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















Monday, November 3, 2014

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





Mailbox was light. Just one Elizabeth Bowen. Not the one recommended by one of the blogs but the same author, courtesy of Open Library



2a

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading this one. A quizzical look at marriage. Three women married men twenty years older than them. The repercussions much later!



The rains have started in earnest now. Love them though they have caused devastation in some parts of the country.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Academy Street by Mary Costello


A very emotional and touching read. One woman a bit removed from the rest of her family and society, bearing loss and heartbreak all alone. Very stoic and one definitely feels for her.

Tess is our main character and her childhood in Ireland is focussed entirely on the death of her mother. Her life both before and after is totally related to this sudden death and how and what became of her life afterwards.

Moving to America and finding a fresh start and a once in a lifetime love, she bears the loss of her love head on. Inwardly dying of heartbreak, she maintains a facade of carefully cultivated ordinaryness. Living each day as it comes, providing for her son in the best way she knows how and then bearing his sudden death in the way she knows best by hiding her feelings from everyone around her. 

Very emotional read and very well written. 

This book was sent to me by Netgalley.