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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers


This was a book sent to me (with several other books) by Jackie at Farm Lane Books who realised very early on my frustration at not being able to find English language books easily here in Sri Lanka. This was pre my Kindle days. I am now blessed in that access to books is so much easier, I very often get the latest books kindly forwarded by publishers and it is only now and then that mainly due to geographical restrictions I do not get to read a book.

The Victorians were great ones for using the language conveyed by each flower to convey emotions and though the commoner ones have survived to this day, the intricacies of this language are immense and convey a whole gamut of emotions, feelings and as this story progresses would even help out emotionally or maybe psychologically situations which need a small push in the right direction.

Victoria is our main character and she is a child not of trust or love but of suspicion and mistrust and she uses flowers in the same way to indicate these negative feelings. She cannot be blamed for her situation - her entire life has been one of betrayal and it is only with Elizabeth and then subsequently Grant, Rebecca and the others whom she meets in her adult life that she slowly, very slowly and carefully tries to learn to trust again. Victoria is prickly, likes her own company and does not know how to be social.

Her learning process and the flowers are the two parts of one story which will keep any reader spellbound. One keeps rooting for Victoria knowing the odds are so heavily stacked against her and this story of Victoria and her flowers is an intriguing read.

Thank you Jackie for this book. It is very late for the review as you sent it ages ago but I am so glad I eventually got to it. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Love that Never Tires by Allyson Jeleyne

A Love That Never Tires


Shades of Georgette Heyer mixed up with a bit of Far Eastern travel!

A story involving a young girl, brought up by her father in a very unconventional style (for the time). Living her life in archaelogical ruins and coming to London as they are dead broke and he must find a financier for his next trip to discover the temple ruins which beckon so enticingly. Linley knows that her duty is to help her father obtain those finances by hook or by crook and to this end she goes along with his plans in London.

Meeting up with a Marquess seems fortuitous but things are not what they seem as he is not as well heeled as he sounds. His main idea was to find an heiress and marry her to bolster the family fortunes. Meeting Linley puts a spoke in the wheel in that scheme of things!

Covering London with all its conventionality at the times, and then moving across to Northern India almost at the Nepalese border was descriptive enough for me.

I did not like the title though as I felt it was not apt for the very lovely story it covered.

The book was a free download from Amazon 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy

A Few of the Girls



This collection of short stories deal with human relationships - and it shows that whether at the beginning of the 1900s or coming close to 2016 nothing has changed as far as basics go. We grow up sometimes in difficult circumstances, sometimes in comfortable ones, have careers, some get married, some don't, have kids, don't have children and learn to live, love and be comfortable with each other.

It was a very heartwarming collection of stories, each unique, each very real.

An author I missed reading for a long time so I am glad I got to this one.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.


A post script here - I was away visiting children and grandchildren in Melbourne and returned this morning. A bit jet lagged but thank god for scheduled reviews. It all seems to have gone smoothly!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan









What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan



It was only after I read the book that I knew that this is a debut novel. What a debut. The pathos and emotion, sadness and anger, joy and hope all come through so very well that you are living the day to day trauma of Rachel, John, Nicky, Katrina and Benedict every minute of it


The story of a mother's worst nightmare - an abduction of a child from a seemingly harmless walk in the woods. Something this mother and son do all the time. No idea of whom, no idea whether it was planned or random and everything going horribly wrong when the focus turns on the mother as the culprit. Why the public would think this was what puzzled me. But the picture did clear though it was so random. The power of the media and to what extent the press would go to keep readers titillated to buy copy, never mind the damage you are doing to a perfectly normal soul.
It was only after I read the book that I knew that this is a debut novel. What a debut. The pathos and emotion, sadness and anger, joy and hope all come through so very well that you are living the day to day trauma of Rachel, John, Nicky, Katrina and Benedict every minute of it.

The story had so many twists and turns - the suspects were hardly any because there was no one who had enemies and so it was an even worse nightmare to try to whittle it down. How a mother's instincts paid off in the long run, and how policing can ignore this to their detriment was also highlighted in this story.

Excellently told. Am looking forward to seeing more from this author.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Murder at the Manor - a collection of classic crime stories!






It has to be my colonial history that makes me nostalgic for manors, country lanes, country scenes and characters as well. Lady and Lords abound, vicars and curates, butlers, maids, parlour maids, groomsmen and of course murders most prolific. This was a joy to read as it dealt with all of them and country charan, stable hands the lot. Downton Abbey in all its aspects combined with a hint of mystery and murder. Fabulous collection of crime.


The best crime fiction authors coming together under the theme of country manors. I was in heaven!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Gone girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl



I must be the last person on the planet who hadn't read this book. I got this from a friend and boy aren't I glad I did.

The book has got so many many reviews so I am not going down that road. All I can say is that this is a twisted, difficult read which was complicated with so many unheard of and unimaginable turns in the story but it all comes together so beautifully in the end that this author has to be brilliant to even concoct a tale like this one.

The author goes into the psyche of Amy so well that at the end we see the whole, but right through the book you are kept guessing as to what is going to happen next. Brilliant story telling.

Definitely looking out for more from this author.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Death of a Nurse by M C Beaton














If you like droll characters set in quirky villages where the language gets some getting used to, this is the series for you.

We have our Plod, Hamish Macbeth who is very happy in his village and in dread that he will be transferred out to one of the big towns. We have Charlie his sidekick, equally happy and in dread that he will be transferred to Strathbane - the home of drugs and every kind of vice it seems. Between these two and their pets Lugs and Sonsie (incidentally a wild cat) we have our cast of main characters.

The arrival of a pretty nurse, saucy and on the prowl herself provides good entertainment for all the local folk until she turns up dead. 


Hamish is also a ladies man who wonders why he cannot find a permanent partner and is on the prowl all the time when there is a good looking lady around. Unraveling the crime is difficult because the suspects keep changing and it is a merry go round of crime. On top of that sparks fly between our Chief Detective Fraser and our simple Charlie much to Hamish's amazement, and then there is strife and jealousy amongst the upper echelons of the constabulary itself with back biting, corruption and paybacks to just throw in a few things to confuse our reader.

Altogether very enjoyable read of a crime novel of an almost different genre!


Sent to me by Netgalley for review courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

The Damnable Legacy by Elizabeth Kretchmer

The Damnable Legacy

Lynn is a dedicated mountaineer. She has sacrificed everything she holds dear to climb mountains. Decades ago she gave up her baby daughter so that she would be free to climb mountains. She still has one more mountain to climb - the infamous Denali and with that she has decided to stop.

On the other side of the country we have Frankie a very troubled teenager, with not the best of mothers. Escaping her mother all Frankie wants to do is reach Ryan and Beth's home where she knows she will be safe and wanted. How to get there is the problem and how she eventually does it shows cunning, shrewdness but above all desperation.

The two people will meet through a series of events which will just bring everyone together. It is almost karmic the way the parties who have nothing to do with each other will eventually meet and it adds to the twists in the story very well. Some things are just meant to be. Why, how, where and when these things happen no one knows and you cannot plan on it as well. It just does.

A story of survival especially under trying physical conditions, the story of climbing mountains in adverse conditions, and the story of love and family are all intertwined in this one.

I enjoyed the slightly out of world experience where Beth who is now dead is a constant figure or rather silent spectator at the happenings throughout the story. Not too far out at all. Very believable!

This was a recommendation on a blog and came free on Amazon.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

London Rain by Nicola Upson

London Rain (Josephine Tey, #6)


May 1937 and it is a good time to be in London. A new king to be crowned amidst controversy not seen for hundreds of years.  Josephine is back in London to oversee a new production of her latest play for the BBC.

The setting is very good. You have the modernity of the BBC which is coming into its own - women are slowly beginning to have some position in administration, not just low level jobs but they have to fight for it. A relationship between two women can be at least acknowledged between the lovers if not openly at least and the controversy of Wallis Simpson has had an ending with the new king coming to the throne.

Within this framework the story of Josephine and her standing in the murders that take place. The why and wherefore are intricate and go back decades and this is the beauty in the story. The death of the broadcaster right during the huge ceremony of the coronation, the discovery of his mistresses's body who is also the chief actress in Josephine's play shows there is some sort of link and it is upto Chief Inspector Archie to sort it out. He did not expect Josephine to put herself in any sort of danger by putting herself forward and taking a leading role in trying to sort it out.

I liked to see how the BBC worked at this period of time and added to that history was also the crime that took place. I am a fan of this series and this worked out very well for me.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson



The year of 1914 was obviously going to be one of significant importance for the whole world. In the corner of England in the idyllic village of Rye however everyone hoped that things would just continue the way they would. Life unfortunately did change for all.

Agatha Kent has brought forward a proposal to replace the current Latin master in the school with a lady teacher. A lady teaching Latin was preposterous for almost all but Agatha pushed that through. Beatrice Nash our teacher was not a run of the mill timid woman, willing to get brow beaten by all. Her father's last will had sadly put her under the control of several others who would use all their power to get her to do things which would be of benefit to them. She would suffer financially otherwise and here she was in a bind. She came to Rye full of hope thinking that at last she would be able to be financially independent, earn a living and hold her head high. She did not take into account narrow minded attitudes, very limited outlook and people who would not like her just because she was doing something with her life.

The beginning of the war and the Belgian refugees coming into this village precipitated another crisis. Enlisting for the war became priority amongst the men and women were to get ready to support their menfolk in whatever way they could.

The actual onset of the war and its bitter repercussions on every family was a far cry from the heroic and glorious war cries of all when the boys went to war. Actual war was death, pain for all and the return of men who were damaged beyond repair.

In the midst of this a love story which showed how life balances itself. With death at the same time new life, new beginnings.

Fabulous characterization, storyline excellent. Compelling read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Random House.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the things we keep by Sally Hepworth




This was another stupendous read. I have been ever so lucky in my choice of books over the last few weeks. Each one is as good as the previous one. Trying to keep up with the reading and the reviewing is the problem. Am reading these end November but reviews are coming up only in February/March. I would have loved for the review to come up immediately as I feel the book is so newsworthy!

 Anna has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers at only 38. Installed in a comfortable residential care facility here she will be looked after well and will not be a danger to anyone including herself, Anna's situation deteriorates very fast. The sadness that envelopes her twin brother who tries to maintain a bold facade whilst at the same time extending his love and support to his sister is heartbreaking as you feel the pain he is undergoing on her behalf.

Eve is now a single mother, ostracised and hated throughout the community. Her husband has cheated literally thousands of people out of their monies and she knows his name is one that is likely to cause people to turn on her and her only little girl, and they do. Forced to move out of very comfortable surroundings to a place which is very uncomfortable, she takes up the post of cook cum cleaner at the facility just to make sure her address will enable her to keep Clementine in her present school. Both Clementine and Eve face immense problems from people around them.

There are two stories here. The story of Alzheimers and the heartbreak of those living closest to the person and who have to watch the sure deterioration of someone like Anna who was full of joie de vivre and was with a full career as a paramedic  To be helpless and not to be able to do a thing.To watch Anna not being able to remember what a vacuum cleaner was, what was the green thing in the garden (grass) and worst of all not to know a very loved nephew's name.


Then we have the social ostracisation of a person. Eve was an adult and knew she would have to face the music head on even though she was not guilty of the charges against her. Her husband was the cheater but Then we have the social ostracisation of a person. Poor Clementine, just a little girl in pre school had to face the taunts of children who could be much crueler than adults, who eaves dropped and retold stories told at home about Clementine's Dad, her Mom and even herself.

The story telling was superb, the characterisation even more so. A must read.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of St. Martin's Press for an unbiased review.