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Monday, March 30, 2015

Mailbox Monday/ It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

My Monday posts are going to be sans images for a good long time!

New books include

The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz

Becoming Tess by H K Thompson

Even in Darkness by Barbara Stark Nemon

As Waters Gone by by Cynthia Ruchti

Following Book Journey's meme for Monday.

Am reading Inside the O'Briens. - just fifty odd pages in and can't put it aside.

Sunday is also World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand. Going to be a tense match. With cricket you never can say what will happen. Australia never ever gives up till the last ball is bowled so it's a wait and see.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver

My first time with this author and it was a wonderful read. I like agriculture myself and am almost a full time one so this book really appealed to me. However it was much more than building a garden. It was a story of family - and a daughter who bent over backwards to reconcile with, and understand a mother whose personality was so very different from her own.

The author wants an empathising, soft, warm hearted mother. Someone who will almost gather her into her arms with a 'it will be all okay' sort of wisdom. What she gets is a rather clinical assessment of the way things could go! Tara wants to unite her brother, his wife and specially the three children into a cohesive family unit and build up memories for the children for their lifetime. This she intends to do by taking one and a half acres of wilderness and turning it into a magical garden - orchard, vegetable garden, chooks  and all.

The travails and heartbreak of gardening - weeds which are determined to thrive, floods, drought, the way gardening ties you down to a routine that never seems to let up. All these are very detailed, very descriptive and kept me wanting to know more.

I loved the easy almost conversational style of the book with its two pronged story of the family and the garden.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.

Friday, March 27, 2015

In the Shade of the Almond Trees by Dominique Marny

When you get a book with a cover like this and something which is plain with only the title on it which one do you get drawn to. I know covers shouldn't draw the reader in, but they certainly do it for me!

Just after WWI the Barthelemy family is trying to survive. Having lost its head of the family, the wife Marthe seems to have withdrawn into her own self - not bothering about the survival of the family run property of almonds and olives, nor about the welfare of a grown up daughter and a young sun. Marthe is frivolous, thinks only of herself and spends her entire day reading romance novels, blind to the real world just outside her door.

Laurent the son is hell bent on travelling, seeing the world and broadening his horizons.  He is a naturalist and wants to join their family friend Jerome in travelling to India and Cambodia and Nepal, collecting specimens of plants and this is his dream. It is left to Jeanne the daughter of the house, to step forward and do whatever she can to save the family property.

Being independent and an entrepreneur for a woman is obviously not going to be a cake walk. Eyebrows raised at every turn at her independence Jeanne ignores it all striving to save the property for Laurent and herself. Realising she is all alone in this venture she has to do her hardest to survive. And she does.

Finding love and heartbreak on the way Jeanne eventually overcomes all obstacles including the dislike of her mother and the scheming of a stepfather who comes to the family at a very vulnerable time.

This book was excellent in its story telling. Full of emotion and feeling also very descriptive of this part of France.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

The Pocket Wife

What does one do when one is seemingly rational, operating on all fronts normally but suffers from bipolar disorder. Dana is in that situation where a particular afternoon seems to have vanished from her memory leaving her with doubts as to what she did or didn't do. Particularly what she might have done and very conveniently forgotton - the murder of her neighbor Celia.

Celia and Dana are friends - you never know whether good friends or just being neighbourly but they did meet for a massive drinking session of sangria the afternoon Celia was found murdered.  Celia had invited Dana over to show her photos which she had taken on her phone of Dana's husband Peter with another woman at a restaurant. The photos are blurry and Dana's entire focus was on trying to find out who the woman was.

The story unravels slowly - there are several surprising twists in this story and several suspects. All of them having very plausible reasons for getting rid of Celia. The fact that the investigator himself has doubts as to who could be the murderer with so many suspects around raises the question what did Celia do to make herself so disliked or rather hated that someone would want to murder her.

A clever twist in the tale - but the greater emphasis was on Dana herself and the illness she had which made her doubt her own sanity and actions.

Interesting story with two distinct storylines nicely put together.

A book sent to me by Edelweiss.

Monday, March 23, 2015

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

My posts are going to be sans images as long as I am posting whilst traveling.

Today I am at Kalpitiya -  a place renowned for whale watching, dolphin watching and kite surfing. Very popular with the tourists. Locals less so. I too have not been to the beach to watch either but I am not a beach fan!

This weeks mailbox brought in the following

Isabella - Colin Falconer. Powerful queen who has to contend with a homosexual King.

The Nightingale Girls - Donna Douglas

Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

Inside the  O'Briens - Lisa Genova - read about this one in a review. Netgalley kindly sent it on very quickly.

It's Monday! What are you reading?   This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey introduces you to books otherwise unknown.

Reading Whylding Hall. A 70s style folk/rock band with all its attendant lifestyle reminiscing about a major incident which changed their lives. I've not yet realized or come to the "incident" sO it's quite a mystery as well.

Weather is very very hot. Not a breath of wind even. There is a belief here that rain will come on Good Friday so everyone looking forward to that.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The American Lady by Petra Durst-Benning

I did not know that this was part of a tribology and that I had chosen the second book in the three. It did not however deter in any way to the story which was a separate one.

We have a setting of New York, Lauscha Germany and Italy at the end. Wanda in New York is young and beautiful but she does not want to be just another pretty face much to the dismay of her mother who wants her to conform to the normal pattern of a young debutante - attending tea parties, doing a bit of high profile charity work and being a lady of leisure. It has suited Ruth for all these years and she is perplexed as to why it will not satisfy Wanda till she marries specially since she has a perfectly suited young man in tow.  Wanda wants to do something with her life but all her attempts to take a job and be like any other young woman fails.

It is at this point that her aunt Marie arrives from Lauscha. Marie has been a glass blower all her life. She loves her craft and is world famous for it but she seems to have lost her zest and imagination and a trip to New York the whole family feels would renew her energy and inspiration.

Marie realizes very soon that there are two sides to the city. The one with the ghettos and its ethnic minorities and the freedom of the artistes to which she allies herself and then the stiff world of her sister with its rigid dinners, lunches and elite small group of people. She is happy for her sister who has adapted well after the rigors of Germany but it is not for her. She embarks on a voyage of discovery of New York, unknown to her family and this is where she meets Franco who becomes the love of her life and one who will change her life and lifestyle forever.

The story of Wanda and Marie was a good one. Starting from complete opposites they find a mutual meeting place and it shows the strength of family ties which bind. It also shows that impetuousness can occur not just in the young but even in much older people!

The mixture of adventure with romance and the history of glass blowing made for an interesting story.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Amazon Publishing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The Status of All Things: A Novel

The whole post has got deleted (at least when I am looking at it) so I am repeating my review.

I liked this book despite the un-real aspects of it and whilst reading I kept asking myself, now why are you reading this? and strangely enough despite the fact that time travel, fantasy and general magic is not my genre this was a good book!

Sent to me by Edelweiss - a surprising read which panned out to be very nice.

What would one do if one could through Facebook comments and just being online change your world. A bit far fetched but this is the story. 

Kate is 35 years old, obssessed with social media. She has also found the love of her life, meticulously planning a wedding of a lifetime where everything has to be just so. No run of the mill stuff for her. Everything is being pre planned, pre organised, down to the last second and maybe just maybe this has miffed or scared her husband to be. Max breaks off the wedding at the rehearsal dinner - it comes as a bolt from the blue to Kate who is heart broken and goes immediately to her FB account to recount her despair. At this point Kate realises her power when she goes back in time to a month before the wedding and begins to see how she could put things right having the knowledge of what will happen one month hence.

It got a bit confusing for me at this point as Kate also had wishes that could come true and she uses these not just for herself but for her friends. She also tries to use it against the love interest of Max her fiance but it backfires on her and she begins to understand that with power comes responsibility and you cannot use these powers viciously or nastily!

A bit quirky and eccentric but at the same time if you want to step out of your comfort zone, this is an ideal quick read.

Monday, March 16, 2015

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

Mailbox Monday. Just one book. Unusual title - The Marriage Hearse.

My posts till I get to Colombo are going to be brief. I don't think my copy and paste is going to work here and on my iPad.

The other meme I follow hosted by Sheila at Book Journey - the image is not coming up at all. My posts are going to be rather flat without these images.

Reading The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer. Courtesy of Edelweiss.

Will try to be more descriptive in future posts!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Rebel Queen

I've read all the books by this author but I did not think this would be available to me through Edelweiss. Thank you for sending it on to me.

The story of Rani of Jhansi is breathtaking. A woman in conservative India - not in purdah, taking on the role of ruler whilst her effeminate and obviously homosexual husband whiles the time away taking part in plays (the woman's part naturally), dresses like a woman bejewelled and beautiful and she as a ruler takes on mediation, meting out justice and administration of Jhansi.

Rani also has her own coterie of female guards - versed in all the martial arts of the time with the sole purpose of protecting her - even against her husband or anyone else. Their first priority is to her. This the Durgavasi take very very seriously. The parallel story of Sita a village girl from very rural India, trained by her father from a very young age in all the arts needed to become a Durgavasi and just awaiting the next vacancy that will arise in the Court.  How Sita succeeds and her break away from the village, entering court life and the changes that occur in her life parallel with that of the Rani and the huge impact of Britain in their lives is this story.

Rani of Jhansi appears at a time in the cross roads of Indian history. The English have all but taken over the majority of Northern India and Jhansi is just one more garrison town in their quest to take over supremacy in India. Her appeals, even sending two of her Durgavasi to England for an audience with Queen Victoria does not gain the results they hope for and eventually Jhansi is lost to the English and with it Rani's life.

Rani of Jhansi is a brave, clever, most diplomatic woman. Trying to maintain a balance between the rebels who seek to destroy the English and the English who just want more and more territory she tries to maintain peace as far as possible. She is a woman of strong will, willing to go against public convention - her stand against sati when her husband dies a case in point. Her cleverness in adopting a little boy when her own son dies and when she knows her own husband is at death's door is with the idea of providing an heir for Jhansi so that the English will not have another strength in claiming that their are no clear heirs to the throne.

Whilst the story of Rani is of paramount importance in this story, the supporting role of Sita and the other durgavasis is almost of equal importance. With them, comes the detailed descriptiveness of court life and how a court in India conducts itself.  Beautifully told, heartbreakingly emotional, full of history and bravery, I loved the story.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Saving Grace (Katie & Annalise #1)

Katie is an attorney and now a partner in a highly recognized law firm. She has a very bad drinking habit which she refuses to acknowledge and thinks of it as something she can control as and when she wishes. It is far from so. Katie is alcoholic and refuses to admit it. When a case of hers goes drastically wrong, she is shown up in front of the whole legal fraternity as a joke. On top of that her rejection by someone she is attracted to shoves her over the edge and professionally and personally Katie is a goner.

Katie lost her parents in a tragic car accident in the Caribbean and this has been always at the back of her mind that she should go visit the place where her parents died. She from the very onset felt suspicious of her parents death - and now feels that the time is right to go and see what she can come up with.

Katie's adventures in St. Marcos are too over the top to be true but it does happen to her. No sooner she starts investigating her parents death, trouble seems to follow her. She falls in love with a derelict house which has a resident "jumbie" local parlance for a spirit that seems to look out for Katie and protects her, her best friend on the island is arrested for murder, and the man who is investigating her parents death - the only investigator on the island seems to be in cahoots with everyone against Katie and is determined to get rid of her following up on her parents death.

A simple story line that did not do anything very much for me reading wise. An Amazon download.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gathering Water by Regan Claire

Gathering Water (Gathering Water, #1)

This was an Amazon download and I did not realize that it had a touch or rather more than a touch of magic or fantasy in it till I was quarter of the way through. Not a genre I read generally but I liked the story and continued.

Della is a child of the foster parent system. She has had her fair share of bad experiences and has toughened up as a result. She has also had good ones - and in her last just before she is turned out at 18 as is the rules of the system, she gets information from her case worker of details of her family.
To add to the confusion as to why no one claimed her when her mother died when she was young, she now knows that there is a legacy awaiting her of a house, a father, a grandfather, uncles and aunts and cousins.

Deciding to look up her relations angry though she is, Della is made aware that other than for one person, all the others did not even know of her existence and had presumed her mother dead.  She has to find her way amongst this clan and this is where she realizes that things are not as simple as they seem. The entire clan has magical powers of absorbing energy from the air, the water, from everything around them and this is where my interest waned!

The story of Della from the time she left the foster home to finding her family, her reunion, her most warm welcome from all and to find out details of her mother and her background were very descriptive and nicely narrated. The magic part of it left me cold but that was only because I am not interested in the genre.

BTW has the author changed the way her name is read?

Monday, March 9, 2015

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

I missed out last week's meme because of work. This week I am getting this done early.  We are also moving house today and I am now almost packed and ready to go.

The books that came over the last two weeks are

Image result for the americans chitra viraraghavan   Image result for bless me father neil boyd      The Guest Cottage      

            Image result for orchard house tara austen weaver        Image result for the pretenders lady alan gold

Image result for the queens caprice jean echenoz         Image result for three many cooks pam anderson       

It is quite a pile and I really have a problem choosing which one to read first.


Reading Ladies of the House. Not quite what I expected!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Golden Widows by Isolde Martyn

The Golden Widows

This was a win from Sheree of The Eclectic Reader. It took a circuitous turn via Australia to me but it does eventually get to me. Books published recently are not available in Sri Lanka and that is why I enter giveaways for Australia as well as they go to my daughter (if I win) and then come here. Otherwise these publications will never ever reach me! So thank you Sheree for the win.

The story dealing with two women from opposing camps was a good one. The very famed Elysabeth  and the actual story of how she engineered a meeting with the King is a story of legend.  Kate on the other hand is on the winning side - a Neville and a young widow to boot, a pawn in the game of politically advantageous marriages and under severe pressure to marry.

Both women need the protection of good men but during such a period of strife in Britain can such men be found. Elysabeth is penniless, fighting for the inheritance for her two sons, dependant totally on family who themselves are poverty stricken and in laws who have thrown her out. She has however the backing of a family who are clever, know when to strike and who know how to take advantage of a situation.  In the circumstances her chance meeting with King, throwing her petitions and herself onto his mercy a very chance situation is made into one which is hugely advantageous not just for herself but for her own clan.

Kate though attracted to Hastings is cautious due to his reputation. A handsome, rich man very much the power behind the throne Kate is looking for a husband who is going to be faithful to her and also one who can be entrusted with the guardianship of her daughter's holdings which are huge.. At the present time finding such a man is going to be difficult. Years spent in war, away from home many men find short lived happiness elsewhere. Kate's chance encounter with Lovidia and her discovery subsequently that the husband she thought was faithful to her had had a child with this woman has blasted all thoughts of trust away and now she is finding it difficult to trust again.

How these two women on opposing sides of the fence find love and companionship in troubling times is the story beautifully told of The Golden Widows. Both women are strong, protective of their children and at the same time very young women who are actively hoping to find good men as their partners. Success in marriage keeping love, trust, faithfulness seems difficult if not a hopeless objective at the time. The story proves otherwise.

Loved this story of historical fiction.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What Happens in Tuscany by T A Williams

If I see Tuscany or Provence in a title I am invariably drawn to check out what the book is about. This seemed a light novel which I thought would be ideal for me whilst travelling myself and it was.

Kate is in a dead end job. She is bored, frustrated at the way her life is turning out to be and her partner of seven years seems indifferent to say the least to any of her feelings. A complete break is needed and this is what she does. Taking up a job as a companion to a 25 year old is weird enough - but when she arrives at the Manor where she has to take up employment she realizes that there are much more weird things ahead.

There is her charge - Lady Victoria Chalker Pyne who seems to be in a time warp of 1910 - hasn't heard of Facebook or Twitter, talks in the language of Jane Austen and has to be introduced to the 21st century - gradually.

The education of Victoria in the manners (and morals) of the twenty first century bringing her gradually into everyday life is the goal of Kate. Her father has deliberately kept her hidden, never taken her overseas (despite having property overseas) as this was his view of keeping Victoria safe.
Ending up on their villa in Tuscany, life becomes different for the two girls who have to also face interests from young men in the vicinity and in Victoria's case how she should cope with both admiration, love and lust. How to differentiate the wood from the trees is rather difficult for Victoria who takes everyone at face value and does not know who is good, bad or indifferent!

As I said a light novel, pleasantly interesting which was a good wrap for a long bus ride!

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Carina UK.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

This was a very good read which shows Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russel capturing the imagination in a classic mystery escapade.

Set alternately in England and a cruise ending in Japan we encounter the adventures of the couple on a seemingly random mystery - a passenger overboard, a blackmailing peer who never got caught, an unusual acrobat of an Oriental - all seemingly unconnected and with no connection to the couple who were seeking a pleasant holiday and rest.

All is not what it seems though. Breaking journey in Japan was on the cards as it is a country they have not been to. They did not plan that they would spend it the way they did. Travelling third class and on a schedule which was tough, they follow a mysterious plan to meet a mysterious man not knowing that their target is the highest in the land - the Prince Regent of Japan who is now being blackmailed and seeks their help in getting an article back from the devious Lord Darley.

How the story goes back again to England and the resurgence of our Haruki Sato - who very quietly and efficiently pulls the wool over both Russel and Holmes's eyes is masterful. Both are played by the inscrutable Japanese - all in a good way for a good cause.

Humorous, detailingly descriptive and slow paced on the whole, it kept my interest from beginning to end.

This was a book sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Random Group Publishing House - Bantam Deli. Many thanks for this book.