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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Truth be Told by Carol Cox

Truth Be Told


This was also a new kind of read for me. Wild West and a touch of romance in a very gentle way. Nicely put together with an actual story which held my interest throughout.


Amelia has taken over her father's printing press and she is determined to run it the same way her father did. Truthful journalism. The biggest obstacle to this however she finds to her dismay is her recently acquired step father - a smiling, smarmy businessman who is not what he seems and who also in addition to fleecing the county, has his eye on Amelia as well.


Apart from Amelia's romance, I did so like the setting 1893. A quiet American town of Granite Springs and so very descriptive. The descriptive part of this story was as good as the story itself. The characters, the lifestyle, the quiet pace of the town all added to the books interest.


This was a free download from Amazon. Another good one!

Monday, January 26, 2015

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






Am late with this post as I was out of Colombo till 4 pm.


          









The above from Netgalley.


Matrons and Madams


This is an intriguing one though the cover does not do it justice! from Edelweiss.


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Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey who is back from her trip to Australia! Welcome back Sheila.


Reading Matrons and Madams. Dealing with a hospital Nursing Sister and the brothels of the area surrounding the hospital. Interesting and a subject which I have not read in conjunction together ever before!


Hot as hell in Colombo and drooling when I read about six inches of snow here and a foot there!



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Things you won't say - Sarah Pekkanen

Things You Won't Say: A Novel


Mike and Jamie are a normal middle class American family - three children, an enormous mortgage, happily married, good friends and a nice suburban lifestyle.


Mike is a cop and Jamie lives in fear every day when he steps out to work wondering what the day would bring. It must be terrible to live under such a stress all the time. Most of the time she manages to shove the idea of this kind of future away but it is always there. What she did not envisage was when the tables were turned and Mike became involved in a shooting of a young teenager during a scuffle and especially when the boy was colored and the issue became a national one. Was the teenager shot only because he was colored?


The topic is extremely relevant in America today and I can see parallels in what happened just a couple of months ago but this is told from the side of the policeman and his family and the havoc that an incident can create in not just a family but even a tight knit community which could splinter over taking sides in such a highly volatile situation.


Jamie has to try to keep it together for the sake of her three children. She also wants to save her marriage which she feels is splintering under the relentless pressure of the media and she wants to save Mike from a breakdown which she feels is imminent. Mike facing the same pressure also from workmates and people on the force as well as the media is knowing that his wife is facing her own demons and is unable to help her. What happens in a situation like this is very beautifully related in this tragic story.


Very good characterization and storytelling.


I have read only one Pekkanen (mainly due to inaccessibility) and I was very surprised when Edelweiss sent this book on to me. Many thanks to them.


On a non blogging note since my reviews are done ahead of time I sometimes find that I do not update anything that may be of interest to readers on a non book note! We just finished a Presidential Election in our country and returned a new president after ten years! This is a huge change for everyone and all are now feeling our way around with a new person at the helm.


The Pope made a visit to Sri Lanka for just two days which was a huge success. Apart from the mass in Colombo he made a lightening visit to a church in Madhu which is in the wilds of Sri Lanka and very isolated. 300,000 people turned up. So glad he did this as another section of people were able to witness and hear the Mass said there.


Weather is now unbearably hot. We always have either too much rain or too little. There never seems to be a happy medium.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Silent Run by Barbara Freethy

Silent Run (Silent, #1)




A woman is involved in a horrific car accident. Forced over by a cliff by a pursuing car, she awakes in hospital to total amnesia. What is frightening is that there is a baby car seat in the vehicle, with a single shoe but no sign of an infant.


Sarah keeps getting glimpses of her past but they are just seconds of her life and with the arrival of Jake who claims to be the father of baby Caitlin and who is furious that Sarah just took off seven months ago with his beloved daughter and for no apparent reason, Sarah knows that she has to find answers to her dilemma and fast.


At the same time worried as she is for Caitlin's life, Sarah's own seems to be a bit precarious. Hounded even in hospital by unknown forces, she has to unravel as to why she was running and from whom.


An interesting mystery with plenty of murders thrown in, this was a download from Amazon for me.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Rogue's Folly by Donna Lea Simpson






This is the type of read that one absolutely has to have when one is harassed! and I was and I needed it and it really suited the purpose.


Lady May seems like a well behaved prim young lady. She has had a tumultuous past with a mother who was the female equivalent of a libertine and a rake. Very unusual for a Regency romance with a touch of Georgette Heyer and this was what piqued my interest. The ladies are normally all very proper and this one was just not so.


May loves her life on her country property. She feels she can be herself, she can wear breeches and ride all around the countryside not being queried or curtailed but all that comes to a rather abrupt end with the appearance of Etienne, someone from her shadowy past and someone who she loves very dearly who is now injured and needs her help to just survive.


The love story of May and Etienne and how despite all odds the story ends well is a nicely told romance - with just touches of just the right amount of sexual tension to make the story worthwhile!


Sent to me by Netgalley via Beyond the Page Publishing. Thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

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




I missed out last weeks MM because there was too much going on. We were slap bang in the middle of a Presidential Election which was surprisingly non violent, quiet and everyone well behaved!!!! Elections in our part of the world are never orderly and this was a very pleasant surprise. We had a change of President which took almost everyone by surprise - an absolute dark horse who pipped the incumbent President to the post. Hopefully this change is going to be good for the future as well.


On a book note some very delightful reads came in.


            













All the above are courtesy of Netgalley.


The Winter Siege


This was a free download from Amazon. Thanks to the blogger who recommended it on FB.


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Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Am reading two books currently! The Winter Siege which I am finding fascinating. Descriptive 100% and The Fifteenth District. Very good reviews from all, but I am finding it very hard going. Almost seventy percent done.


Work has kept me out of Colombo but reading has gone ahead.  Its such a relaxing thing to read something totally out of my current environment and feel transported to either Regency England or to Royalist wars in England or whatever!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Newport by Jill Morrow




Adrian is a successful lawyer and he with his gangly assistant Jim have returned to Newport to attest a very unusual case. An elderly man wants to marry a rather young woman, unusual but not uncommon but what is strange here is that the man is marrying at the request of his long dead wife, who has appeared in a séance and not just requested him to do so but ordered him to do so.


The fact that the very young Amy through whom the wife speaks is none other than the "niece" of Catherine the bride in our story adds the quirkiness. The bridegroom's son Nicky is furious at the turn of events as he fears he is going to get out of his very large inheritance and he has now encouraged his sister Chloe to join forces with him in delaying the marriage.


What was interesting in this story was not just the apparent facts as it appeared on the surface but the history of almost every character which went back decades and which was very much part of what was happening now. How events that took place years before can influence, change and be part of a life decades later is always how stories become interesting and in this case it is very much so.


The stories of Catherine and Amy, how intertwined they were with Adrian and Nicky in very unthought of ways and the outcome today comes together well. A good depiction of life in the 1920s - dark and glitzy at the same time.


This was a book sent to be by Edelweiss.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble






A coming of age story. Three girls growing up in a small beach town, how their lives change, how one of them leave and then return and then how an entire story comes together.


Van is fifteen years old. She falls in love and gets pregnant. Two separate happenings, two separate boys. Unable to confide in anyone she leaves town. She now returns for the funeral of the husband of one of her best friends. Her friend seems very needy and despite her intentions of just "showing her face" at the funeral she finds that other than her friend the lady who encouraged, supported her and loved her unconditionally Dorie is in a mess both personally and professionally and Van's assistance would really help to unravel the mess.


Staying on and getting embroiled in the affairs of a small town was not Van's intention but she does get involved and how. Not knowing whether she should even at this stage turn tail and run or face everything head on, she stays and finds out how far love and trust and friendship can be imposed on and how far things can go on between old friends - how much can be forgiven and forgotton or is there a limit to what one can do.


I read this long before Christmas when things were just beginning to get into a frenzy and loved the calming influence of this small town setting. We don't have towns like this where everyone knows everyone anymore - maybe in the more remote villages but certainly not in suburban Colombo and I enjoyed the ambiance of this book.


This was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley *****




Though I have posted reviews on other books for the first week of January,  this was my first actual read for January and I am so glad that I started out with a bang!


Lucinda Riley does not disappoint in this story - starting out as a big magical with seven girls being adopted from various parts of the world, brought together to an idyllic mansion set on a lake in Switzerland brought up by a single father about whom very little is known (upto the end) and then the story goes on to bring about the history of Maia the eldest and then we have a family saga. So you've got several elements brought together very well.


Maia is the oldest amongst the girls and this is her story. Each girl was left behind a letter and something from her past which will indicate her origins. There are also co ordinates left behind to decipher which will explain their geographical beginnings. All very mysterious and all very whetting the appetite beginnings.


Maia's story begins in Brazil, crosses over to France goes back to Brazil and she finds a long lost grandmother and an entire history of who and what she is. Involving an aristocratic family in Brazil, a sculptor from Paris and a very different lifestyle the story is fascinating in its descriptive detail. Every adopted child I feel wants to know their roots - and to have an inkling as to why they were given up for adoption. It may not give you the answers you seek but at least you have some answers.


The story with its twists and turns kept me going till I finished. Loved this book. 


This was a download courtesy of Edelweiss.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen




The setting of a small town of Bascom is ideal for this slightly fantastic novel by Sarah Addison Allen. She always writes something bordering on the mystical, an edge of unreality always creeping in but not so much that you have to discount it altogether.


The Waverleys are different. Every generation has its own quirks and this one has its fair share. Claire makes candies and her candies imbue the eater with something more - happiness, joy, contentment and whatever the person desires. At the same time the peaceful life of the Waverleys is about to end. A strange elusive old man has entered the village.  No one knows anything about him and he seems to appear and disappear at will but he holds information which he intends to use to blackmail one of the Waverleys and bring down their downfall.


At the same time we have Bay a young, innocent teen who is on the brink of her first relationship with none other than one of the Matthesons. The very same Mattheson's father who broke her mother's heart. Claire naturally wants to protect Bay from all this and more. But life has a funny way of happening despite the wants and desires of its elders and this magical family story beautifully told is one such story.


I always come away from one of these books with a slight feeling of discontent that I am living in a very mundane, practical family where none of the above exists!


Nice read from Netgalley through Hodder and Stoughton. Thank you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade
































The year 1919 - Rachel is a four year old living in a poor world but surrounded by much love and warmth. The bubble bursts in a tragic accident when her father accidentally shoots her mother. He flees away from the murder and both Sam and Rachel are left as orphans.


Rachel's new life in the Hebrew Orphans Home is a new experience of regulations, bells and discipline. Separated from her brother as well she plods along until she is taken into an experimental programme where children were being subjected to xrays in a radical new experiment. The years roll on and Rachel becomes more and more isolated growing up in a small world of the orphanage, pursuing her interests as a nurse aide and then finally leaving the home.


Her sadness is overwhelming when Sam her dearly loved brother skips from the Home after an incident with the warden's son and she feels orphaned once again. She decides to pursue her search of him and finally finds him though he is not the brother she once loved. He has other interests and wants to search out a life for himself. Rachel herself gets put into a predicament where she has to jump ship again and this she does very bravely not knowing what the next day will turn up.


Ending up as a nurse on a ward for the dying she comes face to face her with the doctor who treated her twenty years ago and the cause of her present health issues. Rachel has discovered a lump in her breast and is due for a radical surgery. She squarely blames Dr. Miriam Solomon for her illness and now is faced with a choice of mercy or revenge as Dr. Solomon is in her charge. All she seeks from Dr. Solomon is an apology for the treatment that she got as a child, but this she is not going to get. Dr Solomon lives in the glory of her past - being a woman doctor in an era where women were trivialized in the medical sector and is not going to apologize for anything she did - good or bad.


The story of family, betrayal of trust and choices that one has to make on the way is a good one. Choices that will ultimately influence our lives and is like a turning point in our life depending on the choice.


Very emotional, very human this was a book sent to me by Edelweiss. Enjoyed it tremendously.



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Escape the Night - Richard North Patterson








Peter was born into a very rich, privileged family. His father however had no time for him and was devoted to his business - a publishing house. His father thought it was his duty to set this business up for his son to take over but he did not realize that he was becoming an elusive figure to his son. Any hopes Peter had of knowing his father ended with a tragic car accident where his father died.


Going forward Peter is now a successful businessman himself. However he has isolated himself from all relationships and is haunted by nightmares of his father's death but there is no coherent story or ending to the nightmare. Peter knows and understands that there is a key to unraveling the reason for his nightmares but he does not know that opening this can of worms is going to lead to threats of his own elimination and murder.


Very complicated plot and I found myself foundering in certain places as it was rather convoluted. Everyone connected to Peter had secrets of their own including the girl with whom he has at last trusted and loved.  Betrayal by a family member is very difficult to come to terms with but this is what Peter has to face.


Suspense, terror, betrayal and murder are all part of this story. I did not care very much for this Patterson book though his other books have interested me a lot.


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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot


























The Lake District and it is the 1960s. Abbie returns home and finds that her family holds her responsible for her mother's suicide. Unable to bear this false allegation Abbie knows that she must seek new pastures and found a new life for herself - she also needs to pursue a perplexing tale told by her grandmother and decides to go overseas.

Taking herself to pre revolutionary Russia is rather astonishing and completely different to the life that Abbie knew. She faces it with courage and boldness and willingness to take on anything new. Abbie is not the subservient servant the Russian aristocracy is used to and she is also not a girl who will bow down unnecessarily. Her Russian mistress finds this English governess so different to what she is used to.

The story set against the complications of the beginnings of the Russian revolution and the overthrow of the aristocracy and the end of the King's rule in Russia are very descriptive and detailed. For anyone with a love of historical fiction, this was ideal. It was a wonderful introduction to me as well of the way of life in Russia at the time and more importantly the mindset of the aristocrats who seemed to live in a bubble. As usual there were decent people and one of whom was positively evil.

I found the ending too neat though it was a happy ending and was a nice note. It was too simple for it to end so well! Life very seldom is so neat.


The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Lake Union Publishing. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Foolish Gentlewoman by Margery Sharp














Set in the period after WWII I do so like the pace of this book. Somehow in some strange way it slows you down, gets you to think of how and why people acted the way they did. There is no frenetic need to get things done, to finish the list, to just rush.


Dealing with Isabel - gentle and mild on the surface but obstinate and stubborn to the core when she decides on something, her brother in law Simon ego centric and self assured and thinks he knows best for not only himself but for the entire family and Tilly a sort of distant relation who becomes the entire focus of the story with minor characterizations by Humphrey a nephew and Jacqueline another companion and the Poole's quite different to the normal live ins of the time we have a mixed bag of people living together in a rambling house in the suburbs of London.


Isabel as a young woman feels that she has cheated Tilly of marriage by hiding a letter written by a young man with a proposal of marriage. At the time Isabel was engaged to Mark but she was slighted by Macgregor's indifference to her charms and she thus hid the letter. This has troubled her since (going over decades) and now she seeks restitution. She intends gifting her entire inheritance of 40,000 Sterling Pounds to Tilly to do as she wishes. She on the other hand intends going into a home or hostel or lodgings as she blithely says never having lived like this and not knowing what it is going to be like.


Simon is furious at this turn of events but Isabel is implacable in her decision. The question is only when and in this the timing of when the declaration is going to be made becomes very much a focus and climax of the story. Tilly is invited for a spell and turns up but the Tilly that comes is not the Tilly of yore. She is brash, hurtful and nasty. Vicious almost and turns the quiet, contented spirit of the house into one of tension and disarray. Even Isabel with all her good intentions knows that Tilly is not quite a nice person and is troubled by this but does not turn from her original intention.


The story is about the vagaries of human nature and how some people like Tilly get the most vicarious pleasure out of the misery and unhappiness caused by them to others. Very pronounced in this book. Isabel on the other hand though a bit wishy washy is also determined on some issues and Simon crabby to the last has no say at all in what she decides to do despite him feeling that he is somehow the head of this household.


The book did not have the pleasant ending I expected. This is however an author I will go back to again after a spell with more modern reads!


I read this after reading a post on Fleur Fisher and I am very glad I did. If anyone would like recommendations for really good books set in a much earlier era this is the blog to go to!

Monday, January 5, 2015

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




Mailbox Monday the first for the New Year!




      Silent Run (Sanders Brothers #1)




Just two books. The first from Edelweiss, the second a free download.




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Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.


Reading Newport (pictured above). Very interesting. Again a touch of the other world with séances, and someone who has "passed over" being very much a character in the story. Nice.



Sunday, January 4, 2015

Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

Wicked Ways (Wicked #4)


Though this was Book 4 in a series as a stand alone it was fine.


Elizabeth is a wife and mother. She adores her daughter Chloe but the marriage is strained and she does realize that everything is not quite right and that her husband is most probably philandering.


Elizabeth is however not very ordinary. She also knows that she seems to have psychic powers of some kind and when her husband dies in an accident in the company of the woman who was his mistress and especially when the cops are suspicious of Elizabeth as being part of  a conspiracy to kill him she knows her psychic powers have gone into overdrive. When Elizabeth hates a person and wishes him ill, the person dies and Elizabeth is now beginning to think that this is a curse as this is the fourth person to have died this way.


Her family background is blurred and this is where Ravinia her cousin comes in. Sent by her aunt to find Elizabeth as she fears for her life Ravinia finds a private investigator willing to help her and also willing to accept that this psychic phenomena runs in the life of this family and is something that should not be brushed aside. During the investigation to find Elizabeth Ravinia also helps Joel in his other investigations and finding Elizabeth and discovering she is in danger but not from what they thought was the obvious was the surprise of this story.


A bit slow in parts it could have been a bit more fast paced especially since the storyline was a good one.


Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Kensington Books.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Voices Echo by Linda Lee Graham


This was a win from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Historical fiction alongside a family saga is always an intriguing mix. The family saga is almost always a complicated one and when this was set in Jamaica on a plantation in the 18th century the historical detail was alone enough for me.

Rhiannon was not the average young miss of the era. She had a mind of her own and when her husband left her after a few months of marriage for the safety of his plantation and the arms of his mistress she decided to follow him. Rhiannon's reasons are also not transparent. She is seeking her financial independence of her husband as she wants to set up an inn in Philadelphia and also get away from the attractions of Liam Brock her advisor.

Liam at the same time wants to put Rhiannon out of his mind and accepts an offer to escort a young woman to Jamaica. Thinking that his ship has crossed with that of Rhiannon who should be returning from Jamaica he lands in the West Indies and finds her frightened, under threat and very much alone.
With a background of black magic and smuggling, slavery and abolition very much part of this story the reader is dragged almost against your will into a very dark period of Jamaican history.

The life of a slave in Jamaica was one  which was inhuman and the final revolt of the slaves and the attendant brutality of the slaves towards their owners was not unexpected. Generations of abuse of the worst kind, brutality which was inhuman, punishments meted out for the slightest fault were difficult to even contemplate but obviously par for the course. The owners of these plantations seemed to live in a cocoon of their own, seemingly blind to the majority of those who lived around them.

The story of Albert and Rhiannon with the love triangle of Liam being included as well is one of murder and violence in a back ground of a relationship which seems doomed from the beginning.

Very well told I enjoyed the book very much.