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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Becoming Tess by H K Thompson

The story is an emotional one but the writing is clinical and clean. Taking it one step at a time, we are taken through two traumatic events in Tess Dawson's life. One was the violent death of her brother and the other was the unresolved death of her baby Rachel. Told in an investigative form in precise detail we have Tess at a safe house - she would never survive in a prison. Getting her therapy and trying to overcome her mute state, Tess gradually opens to her empathic therapist. Evelyn Doyle understands Tess's traumatic state and gradually the story of Tess's life unfolds from the time she was a little girl, with a vicious, manipulative mother a distant father and a bullying brother. Tess has believed that she was responsible for both Rachel's and Stephen's deaths and this has weighed heavily on her, adding to her troubled mind. How therapy and a gentle, correct handling can sort out the most troubled souls is Tess's story. More details would be a spoiler for the story and the telling of it are beautifully done. an author I will be definitely be looking out for. Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Troubador Publishing Limited.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May's Grand Tour - A Regency Romance by Pamela Warren

This was a free download from the  My Love for Jane Austen FB page.

I need a little light hearted romance, relaxation and fun amidst he more somber reads and this fitted the bill.

May Weston, an artist from Boston has come to visit her cousin Bingley and from there go on a tour of Europe notably Venice and Rome. Whilst in London she meets with several poets nota
Bly the notorious Lord Byron whose rather dubious reputation as a gambler and a seducer has tarnished his allure. Banned from several places, dunned by his creditors, yet May finds herself very much attracted to Byron to the dismay of her chaperones both Bingley and Darcy. They hope that whilst enjoying her stay in London, her innate good sense will prevail to not fall for the wiles of Byron.

The story continues to Venice (where Byron has holed up to escape his creditors) and while she still sees Byron, May does realize that a future with him is not to be. He is  unreliable and not trustworthy. She still feels for him unfortunately though her eyes are open to his true character. Throughout Darcy remains a strong, silent support for May and this is when the romance between May and Darcy begins.

With a wealth of detail of London and Venice at the time the story moved to Boston and then back to
Pemberley. The rich historical detail added a great interest to the story. The lives and tragedies of Shelley, Keats and Byron also added depth to the book and another dimension to the love story and life of May and Darcy.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ryder - bird of Prey An Ayesha Ryder Novel by Nick Pengelly

 I liked the first book by this Author I got hold of and Netgalley very kindly sent me the second book.

It is a combination of many genres and it is mind boggling how smoothly Pengelly combines them all to give you a mystery thriller with plenty of historical fiction thrown in.

Ayesha Ryder is the heroine of the story. Palestinian born, and English educated she is also very well connected to the powers that be on either side of the pond. Also, equally in demand by many, hated by so many others who dislike her combination of brains and beauty and skill in the martial arts.

This time around we have a missing jewelled falcon with a legend behind it. The falcon through a series of clues leads you to the grave of King Harold II and thus to immense treasure. But the clues are not easy to decipher or understand and it is with this in mind that Ayesha's adventure begins. Set in the cloak and dagger atmosphere of Whitehall with assassinations and attempted assassinations galore, mercenaries and then moving onto the ancient legends and stories surrounding the Knights of the Templars, this was an exciting read.

The culmination was the best part of the story. Using twelfth century medieval fighting arsenal to hammer at a twenty first century enemy armed to the hilt with the best that modern day weaponry could offer.

The book was courtesy of Random House Publishing Group - Alibi.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Henrietta Who? By Catherine Aird

Henrietta Who? (Inspector Sloan #2)

This started as a quiet, well behaved murder mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie. The setting was rural, quiet, with the usual mix of characters which seem to make up an English village - from the requisite vicar, to the postmistress who sees and knows it all to the ladies of the village who gossip, to the "big house" and so on.

Henrietta's mother is found dead on the road by the postman. Apparently the victim of a hit and run. The post mortem however indicates that this is no straightforward hit and run driver. In this case there are post death injuries which show that the driver reversed over the victim to ensure her death. This is the beginning of the unravelling of the life of Grace Jerkins. A very quiet, retiring lady. What is unravelled is a mystery starting with her daughter.

An intricate who dun it which also includes the intricacy of a family's secrets and skeletons in the cupboard which are gradually unearthed, much to the dismay of those who hoped it would be hidden forever. Henrietta turning twenty one which was going to set events in motion and Grace Jenkins had to be silenced before that.

A very nice mystery thriller which I received from  Netgalley  courtesy of  Open Road Integrated Media.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Pretender's Lady by Alan Gold


The story was absolutely new to me. I knew of the reputation of Bonnie Prince Charlie but I did not know of the almost "behind the scenes" affair of Flora Macdonald scandalous at the time, especially as she was a country bred girl from whom no one could ever imagine an affair of any kind.

Flora a staunch supporter of the Prince even against the wishes of her family embarks on what would even today be called a huge adventure but after this affair ends in obscurity on an American farm. She becomes a faithful wife and mother, hiding the heritage of her eldest son till the time comes for her to lobby for peace.

Input by Benjamin Franklin and fictionalized history meticulously researched by the author made this story a fascinating one. Detailed in its description of Flora's early life in the crofts on the island of Skye, then extending to the cities and then to the big adventure of founding a farm in America this was a story very well told.

A download from Edelweiss, I was very glad I got to this book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Five Towns by Leslie Tonner

The Five Towns is a novel which encompasses all that we hope we are not. Set in WW II period in America it is a scene that could have been set anywhere in the world. The story of bigotry, racism overt and covert, a segregation on the grounds of race, envy, the feeling of being above it all are unfortunately characteristics in society not just then but even more so today.

However much wealth one has acquired as John Dodge has, or however poor and downtrodden you may be like Lulu the maid who is African American, and the Jews who want to be like their WASP neighbors but will throw up their hands in horror if their daughter should even consider marrying one of the "white" boys, this is a story very well told of what is hypocritical and wrong in society.

Interwoven amongst three different families - all who have similar dreams for their children. But please within the strict guidelines set out by their parents the stories are sad and bitter both from the perspective of both the younger and older generations. Change is coming but it's not welcome.

Though for me the story was negative emotion from beginning to end it was also hurt fully truthful. I doubt situations have changed much but it was a very well written coming of age story for the young characters in the story and an acceptance of life and the future on the part of the older folk.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Open Road Integrated Media for sending me the book for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

two mini reviews - DOWNTON and FOOD!

Doing two reviews here.


I was expecting something on the Downton lines, but what I got was a concise, nicely crafted piece on great houses in Britain in the "Downton" manner. Details of its history, the present owners, website details, photographs of the houses and a potted history of each house.

For fans of manors, country houses, beautiful walks, scenery that is out if this world, this book is for you.

Needless to say I am a fan!

This book was a free download from My Love For Jane Austen FB page.

THREE MANY COOKS by Pam Anderson, Maggie Keet and Sharon Damelio

I didn't know there was a blog by this name but the book was such a joyful recital of the history of cooking in this family - I would say not just three women but the menfolk were involved and supportive as well as being good cooks in their own right.

Each chapter dealing with a part of their lives, ends with a family receipe, each one better than the last.

Made for a very mouth watering read.

This was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mrs Dashwood Returns. A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility

Mrs. Dashwood Returns
Normally romances are all about women in their 20s and 30s - so it is refreshing to read a story of a a 50 year old widow with three grown up children.

It is ten long years since Mrs Dashwood was literally thrown out of her home with her three daughters not allowed to take any personal belongings. A cousin of hers offered her Barton Cottage and she has been very grateful for the comfort and protection it offered. Her husband died believing his son will honor his step mother and step sisters but John and Fanny his wife did just the opposite.

Now disturbing news comes Mrs Dashwood way that her stepson John has in a drunken state taken a bet with Norland House as the prize. Perturbed that the house would go out of the family to an outsider, she decides to pay a visit hoping she could influence John into changing his mind. Arriving at. Norland House and meeting a long lost cousin from America sets off the romance.

With twists and turns, doing full justice to Jane Austen's style the story ends happily leaving the reader also happy!

This book was a free download from the My love for Jane Austen Facebook page. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Artisan's Star by Gabrielle Contestabile

The Artisan's Star

The story of a man who loves his craft (perfume making) and gives his love whole heartedly to everyone who comes within his purview is the crux of the book. Elle loves his job, he also loves the women who are/were in his life. Right now the focus is on his daughter.

The balance between the "old ways" and modernity, the transition that eventually has to take place when something is passed on between generations is a delicate one. Here we have a father whose entire life is dedicated to his craft and then the daughter who has to take on this mantle. Not easy for either party especially when both are strong willed passionate artists, each with distinctive traits and characteristics.

The story was very good. I like family stories - they somehow seem more at grips with actual life and then this book made you fall in love with Florence itself. I think the detail may have taken a bit of shine off the actual story, but Florence, Grasse and Italy were integral to the story and so it formed not just a backdrop but became part of the story.

Informative about the perfume industry and the environs and artists of Florence, this was a very good read.

I am a bit late in posting this. My apologies to the convenor of the tour.  Thanks to the author and Laura Fabiani of Italy Book Tours for enabling me to participate in the tour.

The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas

The Nightingale Girls: (Nightingales 1)

The year is 1936. A time of great change. The old order is definitely taking a hit making way for new. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of women. More women are going into the workforce, the influence of the aristocracy is waning, more women becoming heads of households, having to cope with questions they never faced before and young women are beginning to realize is that they do not actually have to follow the rules laid down by their elders.

Into this heady atmosphere comes three girls. Three different backgrounds, three different personalities, thrown into close proximity having to live together for three years under difficult and unpleasant physical conditions. Discipline is tight, rules aplenty and like young women all over the world, love always finds a way.

The setting is the Nightingale Hospital - well known as turning out the best nurses in the land. The Sisters who run it are very strict - some seem to have forgotten their own youth but fortunately for the young ones there are many who haven't.

Helen is Constance Tremayne's daughter. A terror if a Trustee on the Hospital Board she rules not just Helen's life with a rod of iron but anyone whom she comes into contact with. Rosie is our a East End girl. Poor but determined to get out of her home, facing an abusive stepfather she is hopeful that her qualifying as a nurse will help not just her but her sisters whom she is justifiably fearful for. We have Millie - Lady Amelia actually who is running away from arranged marriages and just wants to make her own decisions about her future.

These three girls, along with a host of others form the characters of the story of Nursing in England, the lives and loves of young women and the characterization of the times. Told in detail it was an excellent read.

Thanks to Random House UK - North America who sent this book to me via Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon

The Lake Season

The stories of family are myriad. They are very interesting as well because within each story we glimpse episodes and characters all known to us, sometimes us!

The story of Iris - the older so called steadier sister, married, two kids and then we have Leah, the younger one, volatile, the one who has been mum's favorite, always the one who got away from every escapade lightly, the one who attracted the most boys.

Fast forward to just before Leah's wedding. She is getting married to someone rather posh, rather rich and wants everything to be just perfect. She also seems to be very mixed, her behavior is erratic. Iris has turned up at her request leaving behind her failing marriage, hoping that the break will also show her clearly what she should do.

Two different characters, each bound to the other by the bonds of family and parents need to sort out their futures without hurting those around them. A family story very well told.

A book sent to me by Edelweiss.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

The Cherry Harvest

The setting is idyllic. Wisconsin- the area famous for its cherries, shipped throughout the state and this part of the county also a tourist attraction with its myriad orchards.

A close knit family-  Charlotte mother and ready to steer and protect the family, Father quiet, unassuming, Ben their son and Kate daughter.  The family like many in Door County is facing a manpower shortage. The young men have all enlisted and there is no one to work the fields.

Taking an initiative from another state, the County decides, with much opposition to employ POW - German prisoners under armed guard to work their fields. The story actually starts from there - and whilst work goes smoothly, under currents run deep.

How antagonism changes to much stronger feelings, how family secrets are kept hidden, how families divide over hidden agendas and finally the story of survival despite all odds.

The POW working in the States was news for me but then my knowledge of American history is scanty. I liked the setting of the story and the description of a life which one knew was changing.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.