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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Charlie's Wives by Simon Luckhurst

The year 1864 is turbulent in America. Charlie has returned seemingly unscathed but PTSD and depression are unknown at the time and on the surface he seems fine. He is psychologically scarred by the effects of war - the death and for him needless dying of thousands has hit him hard. Much harder than those of his fellow soldiers. To them he seems delicate, sensitive and these are qualities unknown to them.  This puts Charlie at a disadvantage.  They look at him with slight disdain and also suspicion.

Charlie is assigned a role to find African Americans to serve. To recruit them he is given an incentive payment but it is not enough and Charlie finds that talking to the African American women may be the key to getting the men to enlist. Whilst he is successful in doing this, it is misrepresented by his commanding officer who is a boor and a coward who tries to undermine Charlie's efforts at every turn.

Charlie helps the women by writing for them. Letters to their husbands giving details of their homes and children and their own feelings because he knows how much he longed for letters himself from his mother and sisters when he was on the battlefield. He also reads the letters that come back from the husbands and through this interchange, Charlie builds up relationships with the women who are quite distant from the other white men of the camp.

Charlie is an outstanding man of the times. Sensitive and compassionate and compared with the others of his camp he is such a good man. Not appreciated of course by his seniors or his peers who do not quite understand him.

Characterizations was spot on throughout the book and the story was a good one, highlighting a part of the war where African Americans were an integral part of the war to win liberty at a time when such liberty was at risk.

The book is also a story based on true events.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Wild Rose Press Inc.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy

Margot Lewis is a columnist a sort of agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. She also teaches classics at a private school. Margot also has a chequered history which she has taken great pains to conceal as she knows if it gets out that is the end of her teaching career. Subject to mood swings and depression and bouts of lack of self confidence, I wondered how she was an agony aunt and teacher in the first place but as I said all this seemed well hidden at most times.

A girl from this school goes missing but there seems to be little hue and cry as it is assumed that she ran away from home - from a mother and a stepfather and all the implications from that sentence. Unfair but that was the way it went. Getting letters from a girl who went missing twenty years ago and who was presumed dead all these years opens up a new avenue for the police and the Missing Persons Unit. Building up a case from these letters and taking it a step at a time comes this strange thriller. Mystery, abduction of course and above all the twists and turns of the human mind.

The book was startling by the end, totally unexpected from my point of view and held me in thrall throughout.

Sent to me by Edelweiss for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

all I ever wanted by Lucy Dillon

After a series of rather complicated mystery murders and thrillers, Lucy Dillon was a comfort read.

Two parallel stories for me- one a four year old Nancy exuberant, talkative full of life who one day becomes silent, so surreptitiously that her mother and father have to be told the facts by their elder son a little boy of nine. Patrick and Caitlin are so immersed in their divorce, their own lives and how they are going to live that they do not realise what is happening closer to home. Joel who was always attention seeking now becomes worse and Nancy goes deeper and deeper into her shell.

We then have Eva, Patrick's sister who is roped in as a chaperone and a place where both parents would be comfortable to leave their children. Eva is 45 has been married to a famous actor, recently widowed and childless. How she is going to cope with two children in an immaculate house is something Patrick selfishly does not even think about. Eva despite her doubts how she is going to cope, rallies beautifully. The children and Eva develop strong ties of warmth affection and family and this was wonderful to see.

The selfishness of both Caitlin and Patrick was also apparent and though the end of the story brought them to their senses it indicates how quickly even adults can forget about their responsibilities and duties.

An interesting story, with good characters and a nice setting.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Girl Before by J P Delaney

Told in two time frames Emma and Jane both get the opportunity to live in an architectural masterpiece. There are restrictions and regulations and limitations galore and the selection procedure is relentless and ruthless. Both women consider themselves privileged to get the opportunity to
live there.

The house is in itself rather strange, rather peculiar. Very modern in concept and design it is considered secure and unable to be broken into. Everything is digitally controlled and seems almost antiseptic in its design - not just structure but even furniture and fittings.

What follows when living in the house forms the crux of the story and what happens to Emma is both twisted and macabre not the least to do with her own personality and the relationship which developed between the architect and herself. The repetition of the story with Jane draws parallels and you begin to wonder whether history is going to repeat itself.

Alternating between the two women, very soon you realise that this is not going to end well and it is that, that keeps the reader on edge.

I received the book from Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Quercus Books.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

His Kidnapper's Shoes by Maggi James

Sad but not an uncommon tale. A baby kidnapped and brought up by a woman who conveniently forgets the kidnapping and in her mind he is her son.

In this case however there is unknown to the mother physical and sexual abuse by the stepfather and at the back of his mind Daniel knows that something is not quite right with his memories. He does not shrug it off like anyone else but he pursues it. memories of a young child of four and memories of two women totally unlike his mother. This is the beginning of the mystery he tries to unravel and unravel it does.

Having being forced to live a lie, Daniel now has to begin to process who he is, assimilate into a new family and by a strange coincidence lose the love of his life who just so happens to be a close relation. This was the only feature I found a bit too slick but the general book was an excellent read into the vagaries of human nature and what we would or won't do to satisfy simple human needs. Even to the detriment of everyone else, humans can be appallingly selfish.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Oh this was dark! very dark and it made you sit a bit on the edge of your seat throughout the read!

Very much in your face with the facts, nothing was quite hidden here despite the Southern charm.
Like all families, this one had its secret a very twisted one and one that had seeped through three generations of women. You didn't have to like this book you just had to know how it was going to end and the ending was a closure of sorts. I doubt you'd get closure with a subject like this but this is as far as it was going to go.

Very well told, strong characterization and plot this was a good book though the subject matter was distasteful. distressing even.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

the nearness of you by Amanda Eyre Ward

The story is complex. It deals with the delicate modern issue of surrogacy and the fact that it is definitely not for everyone (though most people go into it not taking emotional factors into consideration). The overwhelming need of wanting a child, someone with your genes takes over common sense and basic human fears and then the snowballing situation of which of course one does not have control over takes over several people's lives.

Our husband and wife duo are quite placid or rather the wife is over their lack of conceiving. Until it appears that Hyland has been considering options unknown to his wife. Finding a surrogate and going along with it blindly Suzette does not realize how much hope and faith her husband has in this succeeding.

Once chosen Hyland is so into the health and well being of the surrogate much more than Suzette who is a little distant and reserved but as the pregnancy progresses they are both totally agreed on the outcome. That the outcome is not exactly what all wish for is of course heart breaking and out of the blue. It also reiterates that all plans do not follow a scientific course of action and that action 3 will necessarily follow 1 and 2.

The book dealt with human emotions of every nature and handled them well. It was a roller coaster of a  story which kept me in its thrall till the end.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Ballantine Books.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Death at St. Vedast by Mary Lawrence

Sometime since I read something set in Medieval times so this was a good change for me.

Bianca is an unusual woman for her times. A herbalist a profession which can border on the dangerous depending on the mood of the people. She could be branded a witch for which the gallows is the option and so she must be careful of what she says and how she dispenses with her salves and potions. To the despair of her husband John she is also outspoken, easily draws the eye and attention of folk and this is dangerous for both of them.

In the midst of a series of unusual deaths, where the victim turns to being gibberish, to being almost epileptic in their symptoms with no previous disease the population wants an easy victim. From the husband of one, to the simple pastor of a parish who could not do enough to keep a person alive the victims are drawn from all sides - both the victims of the illness as well as those deemed to be guilty of being part of the illness.

Bianca realises earlier on that though isolated and the deaths are physically far apart from each other, the symptoms of death make her look for a common denominator in all. Through a series of deductions this she is able to do. The difficulty for her however is to be believed - a woman's powers of deduction and intelligence are very low rated amongst the chauvinist males of the times and getting her voice heard is going to be very tough.

The characterization of Biana and John was well balanced. One timid and one forthright, the others were typical of their times. Interesting plot as well.

Sent to me by Kensington Books courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Time Coming by C S Harris

There were several bloggers who highly recommended this author but for other stories. This is the one I was able to get and it did not disappoint. My knowledge of the American Civil War is very scanty.  This story filled in the historical gaps very nicely set against abolition, slavery and the very unnecessary loss of lives which followed.

The story of Amrie who has only got memories of her father who enlisted when she was ten years old. Left in the care of a mother who was a very strong, and unusual woman of the times Amrie noted and came to her own conclusions on many happenings in her world, but she did keep them to herself. She grew up too soon and was a very mature fourteen year old who understood the vagaries of war, of men and hardship. She was a capable helpmeet to her mother and to those around her and she knew when to be discreet because indiscretion meant even a loss of lives. The story also highlights the unwritten heroes and in this case heroines of war of which little is known.

The prejudices towards African Americans was so stark, the sheer inability of white slave owners to even acknowledge them as people was very marked in the story. That even a pastor would condone slavery albeit actually encourage and endorse it, quoting from the Bible in support was incomprehensible.

Controversial, disturbing but it makes you think a lot on every distasteful subjects.

Sent to me by Severn House Publishers, courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Sound of Thunder by Taylor Caldwell

Edward was one of the children of an immigrant. Typical to his age, he just wanted to make a living for his children in the best way he could with the help of his wife and this they did in running a modest delicatessen. Heinrich was more than content if he could nurture his children's talents and they were an extremely talented family. However, the sacrifice had to be the eldest who had to work hard, never had a childhood because he became the support and mainstay of his family.

How a lifestyle and a way of thinking turned a boy into a hardened man, with tunnel vision which ultimately cost him the love and warmth of his siblings who drained him dry financially, but did not care a toss for him and his well being is this story. A family saga, fairly twisted by twin themes of greed and envy which ate into the psyches of some of the siblings and which led to simmering undercurrents throughout the story.

This was not a comfortable read. You felt for each of the characters - some very strong, most weak falling aside over the overpowering personality of Edward who was dominated and controlled by the vast financial empire he built. That Edward found love and understanding in his wife and children was the saving grace for Edward.

The story also highlights the rise of a middle class in America, moving from small time businessmen to powers that will be in the financial world.

Very interesting, powerful characterizations and a family rags to riches story very descriptively told.

Sent to me by Open Road Integrated Media courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Private House by Anthony Hyde

Set in Cuba with very interesting characterization, it brought out the best and the worst of a failing economy where normal citizens are so deprived that they resort to every imaginable scam possible to find a buck. Alongside that is the story of a rather naive woman, trying to find the young lover of a friend of hers to give him a legacy that has been bequeathed to him.

It was a conflicting story and at times the numerous characters confused me as to what their role in the story was, and how it was going to end. Two women one is Lorraine seeking the elusive Amado and then there is Mathilde a journalist looking at the Cuban revolution through an exiled American, a former Black Panther.

Since my knowledge of the Cuban Revolution was scant, and even less knowledgeable about the role of America in the whole scenario, I found the historical snippets very good reading and enjoyed this. The complications brought about the sordidness of poverty and trying to rook everyone who came within their sphere, left me feeling a bit dismayed, but that is hard core facts which cannot be denied and cannot be sugar coated. When life gets tough, you've just got to survive and this is one way of doing so.

I was still left dissatisfied at the end of the story as its pretty open ended but I did read it right to the end!

Sent to me by Endeavour Press through Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Melancholy Virgin by Annabel Laine

This was an interesting take on a Regency romance.A Lord Moriston, Bow Street runners and a murder of a young lady of easy virtue. All linked to the quiet, well behaved impeccable (upto now)Secretary of the said Lord.

Knowing that his Secretary cannot be in anyway involved with the murder, though he could be definitely involved with the young lady in question, Lord Moriston's quest is to very quietly without the risk of scandal sort the intrigue and find out who exactly murdered this lady.

That course of action puts the cat amongst the pigeons. There is a lady who is looking after the murdered woman's interests and she is determined to take Francis the Secretary down! on the other hand there are people who are very keen on making Francis the scapegoat for their actions and this makes for a very interesting murder mystery.

I liked the read very much. It pulled me out of my reading slump!

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Endeavour Press.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham

Set against two separate time frames and three different story tellers, this was a story of family secrets and the irreparable damage that can be done by keeping such secrets. Sara and Polly brought up by their grandfather and Bridie their nanny after the tragic death of their parents are very different as siblings. Though as children they cling together against all outsiders, this they feel as their duty after their parents death. It is a kind of loyalty but this begins to be tested the sooner they grow up.

Very early on in the story one realises that Polly has discovered something amongst her grandfather's papers but she is not letting on to Sara what she knows. It causes a slight shift in their feelings and Sara though she knows it does not know the reason for this. This is one part of the story. The life of the two sisters from the time of their childhood to young adulthood form one part of this book.

The other part is that of Bridie who has been the mainstay of the girls' lives.
She too is hiding many secrets and her secrets cover the earlier time frame but the effects are felt by all today as this is what has given her, her taciturn airs.

Bombings of the 2005 era in which Sara is effected as against the Coventry bombings of 1939 where Sara's grandfather was convicted are part of the many strands of this story.

It is a complicated read with no fairy tale ending. It is hard hitting and realistic and a book which keeps one's interest going till the very end.

My first read of this author. Will not be my last.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway

Joy was a model student and till very recently a model daughter. Discovering her body in a local pond and finding out that she was strangled was a shock to the entire community. Unraveling threads of her life over the last few months was surprising to all.

Told by four different people from four different perspectives, the stories are different and their views of the dead teenager vary. It shows how little we know those we live with and again reiterates how little we know our own children. How clever we are at subterfuge and how cleverly we can hide what we feel, what we do and what we are going to do.

The story was rather slow to unravel at the beginning but it picked up mid way and the actual discovering of the murderer was surprising (to me at least it was a surprise). The truth was a jolt for all.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Murder at Cleeve Abbey by Anita Davison

I did not get to the first in the series. This was the second book but it did not detract from
the story or my interest in the book.

Flora is now very happily married but has just received disturbing news of her father's death
in a riding accident. Going back to the house where she lived and worked as a governess, she finds the circumstances of her father's death strange, and even stranger that a lot of people want to pass
this off as a tragic accident when the signs for Flora are that it is anything but an accident. Getting
even her husband to accept her point of view takes some doing but gradually she unravels a plot
that proves her right.

Finding the culprit however is going to be a tougher struggle against many odds and when you begin to uncover family secrets you are also going to be very unpopular.

A very nice mystery murder cleverly untangled.

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Jewelled Path by Rosalind Laker

Irene has been born into a jeweller family but she gets scant encouragement from her hide bound father, despite being very talented and accepted into a training school against severe odds. Her support comes from her step mother who understands Irene's talent and the need to create.

The time is the 1890s and a time of great change for women particularly. Going into a trade would have been totally forbidden before but Irene is determined to make some kind of life for herself and this she does. It happens slowly but she evolves into a determined business woman having her own salon and taking over the mantle of her father on his demise.

Her love story was another aspect of the book and for me it was two separate stories though albeit linked because both men in her life were very closely linked to jewellery themselves.

I liked the description of the business, the story of the gemstones and the work involved in the days when jewellers actually travelled to their customers residences especially when it involved the work that the Lindsay family did. The detailed description of the work, and the workshops was not boring in the least and added much depth to the story.

A book sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Endeavour Press.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Truthful Story by Helen Stine

Nannie's death affects many people. Her daughter who cannot express her grief openly, and particularly her grand daughter who needs her mother to be warmer and more expressive and finds the vacuum particularly hard. Genevieve shared an uncommon bond with her grandmother and this continues after her death. There is no one whom Genevieve can share this knowledge with. That she feels her grandmother's presence and even her voice speaking to her, guiding her in what she should or shouldn't do and being a very comforting shoulder to lean on.

Not wanting to be judged fanciful Genevieve keeps this to herself and her sorrow spirals as she feels so alone. Her grandmother's death was deemed an accident but there are signs that it is anything but. No one wants to delve deeper into issues which were contentious and most people seem to be happy to let things lie.

Combing Southern characteristics and the unusual almost magical touch that marked the relationship of Genevieve and her grandmother, this debut novel was certainly different. A family's very survival depends on unraveling this mystery and unravel it they certainly do.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Cardinal Press.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns

The trip to Paris had been in the planning for years. Kat and Amy had talked and planned to the last detail and Amy's marriage to William had slightly derailed the whole idea. Between them both they had thought of how they could keep William in the dark, skip off to Paris during one of his long business trips and return with no one being the wiser! Kat's death was a huge blow to Amy and one she just could not come to terms with. Going to Paris on her own seemed to be the only tribute Amy could pay to her friend, her former lover and her soul mate.

It seemed fanciful, out of reach but with the right planning it could of course be done. Needless to say we had nothing difficult like visas, finances to look at which took it out of the realm of ordinary and put it up there as something almost fairy tale like.

It was a good story though, at times fanciful because her befriending someone in Paris who took her under her wing, looked after her so well and helped her at every turn was something that seemed a touch unreal. It can happen of course and it did here.

In Paris Amy ran the gamut of being stalked, robbed, besieged by scams at every turn. The theme of food was paramount throughout and the descriptions were mouth watering.

The marriage was anyway teetering and this trip seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. How William handles his wife's disappearance is noteworthy too. Not one to get into a flap he systematically finds out what happened, where she is and appears in Paris too.

About life and love in general and Paris in great detail, this was one for the Francophiles.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Velvet Morning Press.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Murder Game by Julie Apple (Catherine Mackenzie)

I did not know Catherine Mackenzie was writing this book under this name and I am glad I did not!

I thought the story was innovative, interesting, detailed in its description and captured my interest from the first to the last.

I like legal thrillers very much so this book kept me enthralled. I also liked the setting of Montreal and the description of the suburbs as well as the city was completely new to me.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lawsome Books. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sent to His Account by Ellis Dillon

Sent To His Account

First off I loved the cover.

Miles was going to have the fairy tale life. Having lived in genteel poverty, counting every cent before he spent it, an unexpected windfall gives him plenty. A beautiful home, agricultural property and a community that he falls in love with. He is also determined to do good by all, not just enjoy his new found wealth by himself.

The mystery thriller part starts with a dead body, unfortunately found in Miles's own sitting room. That the dead person was controversial, in a lot of trouble with a lot of people did not help the investigation at all. The village itself closed ranks against outside investigations and it was not going to be easy to crack this case. 

I enjoyed the village setting, especially the characters in the village. Shades of Agatha Christie here.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Endeavour Press.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Walking the Lights by Deborah Andrews

Walking the Lights

Set in the 1990s in inner Glasgow I presumably think the less salubrious side, Maddie's life opens in this story on a rather squalid note. I had no hopes for either Maddie or the story and thought it was just another druggie story going from bad to worse and was rather sickened by the saga as it unfolded.

With no hope for betterment and no wanting it to be better Maddie and Mike live from moment to moment hoping to find money for their next fix, scrounging and borrowing what they could, where they could till Maddie gets an opportunity to work in the field she likes and despite all odds is able to make something of her life. Its a hard crawl out of the gutter but she does it.

For me it was reading something that belonged to an era and time I know nothing about so it was an eye opener but which I presume was true and representative of a time and people who lived the way they did!

Starting off with very negative feelings about the whole saga, my interest was piqued by the story as it progressed.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Freight Books.  Many thanks.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

The question as to why a father would take his child away from his mother, suddenly, apparently without any provocation, on a perfect holiday left me puzzled. You did want to know why. No apparent friction, no cracks, no sudden argument. A marriage meant to be - where the couple met through a series of coincidences and were happy.

It adds weight to the old argument that no one actually knows what goes on in a marriage other than the two parties involved and in this case Violet was also one of those who did not know what was going on. This was not an extra marital affair but rather an affair of the heart and one which she could not compete with - a dead fiancee whom she had no inkling about and which brought down her a marriage like a deck of cards.

Secrets come with hidden agendas and Finn's was big time. The story unravels slowly and though you do know why and how the main incident happened, Violet's reaction and story come only almost at the very end.

Skillfully told, the story holds the reader's interest throughout.

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Other Wives Club by Shari Low

Light hearted and a fun read. The setting was equally good. A cruise in the Meditarranean.

Only a man could presume that three wives - two ex, one current, with their respective partners and his children could make a go of a cruise offered by him to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. His present wife did not have the gumption to stand up to him and voice her opinion, the two ex wives came along for reasons of their own. Put them all together and you knew friction if not fireworks would result.

The resulting story had its highlights with one bitchy wife, one easy going wife and the present wife who did not know how to handle her much older husband. How it all pans out well for all three wives in three surprisingly different ways was very entertainingly told. A bit predictable but very easy reading as well.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton


The book was sent to me by the author herself and I am so grateful for receiving this.

The collection of short stories was  so descriptive (especially for a person from overseas) that it brought England very close to me. Not just the physical description of coastal England but also the culture and people and most importantly the flora and fauna of rural England.

The sixteen short stories are emotional. They are also concise. A very difficult balance to maintain and one that is so for all the stories.

There is quite a bit of folklore, there is excellent characterization and the whole collection is brought totally to life and one felt one was actually living in the Suffolk countryside.

I loved the collection.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Behind Closed Doors by J J Marsh

A series I knew nothing about but this was good as a stand alone as well.

A series of inexplicable suicides right across Europe. All eminent men but those with an unsavoury past and no real moral ethics in business. It was business first and last with all these men and this is the only common factor amongst them. Their deaths all varied and somehow the way they died was also linked to how they lived and how they conducted their business. No clues, nothing to link them together except for one sample of DNA left behind at the scene of the murders.

A group of international experts put together under the guidance of Beatrice Stubbs who has to adhere to international rules as well as differing way of doing things as each expert thinks his way is the best way. Disparate to say the least and ruffling feathers and smoothing them is also part of her job.

Unraveling the mystery by finding a common denominator seems the way to go forward and with pressure from above to solve the murders, as the number of deaths rise is not as easy as it seems as you are dealing with a master manipulator and a very clever man (or woman). They always seem to be a step ahead and the author keeps you dangling as to what would happen next.

This was a very cleverly written novel with good characterization.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

the kept woman by Karin Slaughter

Involving cops - present and past, good and bad you knew that this was going to be a thriller to beat all thrillers the moment the first paragraph was read.

Finding a cops body in a neglected warehouse was bad enough. The fact that the owner of the said warehouse had gone head to head in very recent cases and come out smelling like roses was not going to make our cops happy. Having to deal with powerful businesses who dealt with the cops as if they were trash was not easy either. For Will Trent having to deal with this case, specially knowing that his wife , herself an ex copy was involved in it upto her eyeballs was going to make this case the most painful one of his career.

Add to the mix his present partner, also in the forces - the medical examiner in this case and you know that so many strands woven together could either make or break the story. The fact that there were so many loose ends, so many different stories, different characters all complicated but that they worked seamlessly together to bring about a chilling story of mystery and murder, big time football
big time crime and held the reader spellbound, speaks to the cleverness and adroitness of its author.

Loved the story, loved the writing.

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

The story is dismal. Eileen is 24, unattractive and makes herself even more so, works in a boys prison with harsh colleagues. She is friendless, suspicious herself of everyone, has to return home to an abusive, alcoholic father and her life seems to be at a dead end. There is no future for her at all.

Rebecca's  entrance to the story brought some welcoming lightness. She seemed a normal, attractive, fun loving young woman who showed Eileen glimpses of a world which were for her were rare. Unfortunately Rebecca had her own agenda and ensnaring Eileen was one of them.

The ending was a bit flat for me though the character of Eileen though very repulsive makes for compelling reading. Her psche bordered on the weird but it kept you reading hoping for better things to come. It never did!

I found this a puzzling book because most of the time I was reading without getting involved like I would normally do. It was not a book however that I could leave half way done either.

Sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House  UK, Vintage Publishing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Time travel - this time not going very far. Just early twentieth century but still different.

This was so fabulous that I felt that welll..... it could happen you know!!! told so beautifully that the story draws you in and keeps you first in the early twentieth century on a farm/commune. Old fashioned, hard working and gorgeous called Greengage Farm and then swings you out into the harsh world of a single mum trying to bring up a mixed race kid facing all the problems you could imagine. Emotional, financial and with no family trying her very best to cope with a bad situation.

Lux has to try to balance her worlds and without entrusting her secret to anyone but her friend who just does not believe her but is open enough to just accept it for what it is. Lux disappears regularly and no one knows where till one day it goes wrong in a juxtaposition of time and she is away for a year, during which her parents have been given custody of her beloved son. To win him back Lux has to work very hard especially to win his trust and the trust of her parents because she cannot tell anyone where she has been.

Fast forward and Lux living in both worlds continues till she has to make a decision once again with the added complication of another child. What is good for this second child is definitely not the present world and how does Lux try to solve this Solomon like problem.

The story kept me enraptured, and though with its ups and downs emotionally it was a beautifully told one.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Random House Publishing Group Ballantine, for an unbiased review.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Behind the Lines by W F Morris

The first time I am reading a story from the other side of the lines. WWI and II has brought about a plethora of books. All very good reading. This is a story of someone who is a deserter who kills a fellow officer and then joins a rag tag group of men, on the border lines of the actual action, scrounging a living from the dregs remaining of actual warfare and somehow surviving.

Peter kills an officer and is convinced that he will not get a fair hearing. He is sure he will be tried and hanged for this offence. He has no choice but to flee but he lives in torment as to what he has been forced to give up. The chance of love because he just met a young lady who has taken his fancy, his family back in England and the goodwill and reputation he had as a very good man in the army itself.

Trying to balance his life with the fugitives with whom he has thrown his lot, he must also avoid capture by the Germans, try to regain contact with his girl and fall on her understanding and mercy for his absence and lack of communication and try to come to grips with life again.

Very well told for such a harrowing background, you root for Peter all the way.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Lake Union Publishing, for an unbiased review.

Friday, February 10, 2017

From A Paris Balcony by Ella Carey

Sarah is a practical, down to earth art curator. The death of her parents and the breakdown of her marriage dealt her a double whammy. Finding a letter in a closet of her late father's addressed by a famous courtesan to her great great grand father and the contents of the letter compels Sarah to set out on an adventure with very surprising results.

The story is romantic and far fetched, but it is set in beautiful surroundings. Told in two life times and hence two life lines it compares and contrasts the present with the past. Both have rich histories and combined with the setting of Paris and England they present a story that is extremely entertaining.
Highlighting the plight of women in 19th century Europe where being an aristocrat or rich did not help if you were a woman fighting for your rights to not just love but even to live. Husbands were able to do what they wished and despite being a woman of means, Louisa in our story had very little say in her life. First governed by the wishes of her brother, mother and society and then dictated by her husband she was doomed to a life of unhappiness. Sarah brought it to light and sought closure for her family by highlighting the truth of Louisa's apparent suicide. It was of no avail but it helped Sarah in her quest for the truth.

Idyllic in its content and very pleasant reading.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Lake Union Publishing,  for an unbiased review.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

This was a mystery murder/thriller cum detective novel at its finest! A real page turner. One I had to finish in one go.

A well respected college professor, also a famous crime writer finds his entire family brutally murdered.  He is also on the run. It simply points out to his guilt. For some reason, completely unfathomable to everyone around him - his students, his in laws and even to the police chief who knew him this was not his work. But then why was he missing, why didn't he turn himself in and tell his part of the story.

The story unravels slowly without any sequence or logic. I personally could not work out who was the murderer and why till it was actually spelt out.  Taken in baby steps, the logic and why and wherefore of how a murderer's mind works and subsequently how those who are most affected take revenge are devious and complicated. This adds to the story here.

A very good read sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Songs from the Violet Cafe by Fiona Kidman

The setting with New Zealand is unique. The period covered is a long one - sixty years so it covers a whole gamut of styles as well, from hair to food to conversation and way of life.

The Violet Cafe is at the centre of the story and it is an unusual cafe for the time. French themed food and a madam who acted just like one, fairly autocratic for a rural area who only employed "troubled" girls. The theme worked and each girl was a fairly strong character in their own right, developing the story as it went. The men were on the periphery as it were and though they did contribute to the story, the women were the main thing.

Each woman's life taken separately and then together, how they meshed and how Violet influenced each one in turn, despite her in turns being liked or disliked by her employees was told very well.

It was my first foray into reading Kidman's books but it certainly will not be my last. Enjoyed this story very much.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Gallic Books Aadvark Bureau.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

This was a family of three children, but there was nothing very normal about it. Verity and Ewan were children from previous marriages of both husband and wife respectively and Bronte was their only offspring. Fortunately, the three children got on very well together despite Karen the mother in the relationship doing everything possible to drive a wedge between Verity and Bronte.

Very early on in the story one did realise that Karen was going to either do something drastic or something drastic was going to happen due to her niggling interference. One did not think of her murder! Then there is the father in this whole story. You do want to shake him up - tell him not to be so lethargic, so laid back and so distant from the whole thing. He thought that by ignoring the situation, the situation would improve or the problems would go away. He was irritating as well. The fact that both Karen and Noel were having parallel secret lives of their own did not help the situation as well.

There were lots of different lines in this story - dysfunctional family, emotional highs and lows, sibling love no rivalry, a family pulling in different ways with no way forward. It certainly added to the interest and the way the story finally panned out.

Although Bronte's "abduction" was the initial highlight of the story, it was the factors which led to this that were the main features of this book.

Very interestingly told, with strong characterizations this was a good read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grove Atlantic.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Best of Families by Harry Groome

Fran was young, naive and innocent. Making someone pregnant at 18 did not fall into his scheme of things though he did love her very much. Against many odds he decides to marry and then he enlists for Vietnam leaving a wife behind, leaving her with his parents who have nothing in common with her and a mother who does not hesitate to show her antagonism known. Fran in his naivety thinks they will look after her but they don't. His father is spineless against the will of his wife and things spiral out of control.

Returning badly wounded, he finds his wife has disappeared and no amount of trying to track her down or talk to her works.  Fran also is dispirited but he also seems to take the path of least resistance though he does try initially to find out what happened to his wife and child.

Fast forward many years and he has now married but there are secrets in his second marriage as well.
It does not augur well for the future with so many shadows and secrets in their lives. How they cope with an uncertain future, surprising comebacks and how Fran and his second wife have to deal with their own marriage and its frailties before they confront the future.

Mainly I felt sad for Fran for the futility of all he lost, despite being a brave, honest man who always tried to do the correct thing. The story did not draw me in as much as it should have mainly because of the negativity that prevailed.

This book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of The Connelly Press.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Art of Murder by Nicola Slade

A new start up group of art enthusiasts, some amateur some not, all quite talented getting together for what would hopefully be a new gathering of like minded people for the future.

The setting was also good - a new picturesque B&B with enthusiastic owners who were hoping that this initial weekend would be the beginning of new business for them.

Linzi Bray was the Chairperson of the group and she had a knack for creating strife, tension and dissension wherever she went. Individually lots of the group had pet hates against her with the exception of Harriet and Sam who were able to look on the entire proceedings with a certain amount of distance and fairness. What they learnt was not pleasant at all.

Everyone of the participants had an axe to grind with Linzi and there was no hesitation on their side to show their animosity and dislike. Reading the story you knew things were not going to end well before the weekend was over and it did end badly.

The story was well told, with nicely deduced step by step unraveling of the mystery.  The who dun it was quite mysterious till the end because so many of them had good reasons for murder! Lots of clues, lots of tense situations, and lots of nasty scary incidents well before the murder all helped to bring it to a climax.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Endeavour Press.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Two short reviews. Regency Romances. Each different.

This was a setting which was a bit different. We have a feisty heroine which is very good and we have a a rather complicated story ahead.

Caroline Malcolm has just discovered that the man she has lived throughout her life with is not her father. Her quiet, unassuming mother had a relationship of some sort and has left virtually no clues behind of where the search should start.

Lord Moriston is drawn into this rather entangled web which is fraught with danger as very few people know of the story and the few who do know do not want it uncovered.

A twist on the normal Regency romance.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Endeavour Press.

An Inconvenient Ward (Inconvenient Trilogy, #1)

Another great story. Lord Michael is dashing and very eligible. He however harbours a secret that cannot be told. He feels that there is madness in his family and this makes him sure that marriage is out of the question for him.

Having never fallen in love before this has not proven to be a problem but the appearance of the charming Miss Rufford and he having to be her guardian, despite her definitely not needing one (being an independent young miss) puts the cat amongst the pigeons!

These two books were just what I needed as I felt that I had been reading really "heavy emotional" tomes before.

Light hearted and you knew you were going to have a happy ending. This was a recommendation from a fellow book blogger and a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

A complicated story of friendship and growing up, secrets held unknown to those even those very very close to one and the sad end to this particular story.

Sharon has always felt out of place. Not just within her family but at school, at college. Until she met Mel and found a soulmate. Abrasively different to Sharon who was self effacing, and full of doubt, Mel was confident and bold and together they became a great team. Having come far in their profession, they are now popular and at the top of their game.

Life and personalities get in the way and cracks begin to appear in what has upto now been solid bonds.

Told mainly from Sharon's perspective the story unfolds slowly to a climax which is unexpected and sad.

A roller coaster for the emotions!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House Publishing Group, this was a read that makes one think even after you finish the book.Th

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beyond the Fight by Carol Preston

The First World War setting is quite commonplace but this was unusual because the setting was Australia. It was my first read of WW background in Australia and the subject of internment of those immigrants of German origin was another first for me. I did not know this happened in Australia as well.

Percy has not gone on with his father - there have been differences of opinion on various subjects and it has now come to a head with the internment of German origin Australians. The bombshell that he is not his father's son makes him re think his ideas for his future, and pursue a career in the field of telecommunications and specifically telephones, a rather new field in Australia and one which is met with scepticsm amongst many.

Meeting Mabel unexpectedly is the beginning of a romance but with many complications. Percy has to maneuver his way through a minefield of his background, his job and the overwhelming odds of Mabel's mother who dislikes him on sight and is determined to dislike him forever!

A very nicely told romance, with overtones of history and life in Australia during this period of WWI very well told.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Rhiza Press.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Proposal To Die For by Vivian Conroy

I fell in love with the cover as I am a sucker for nice covers! the story however was slightly different from my expectations. I expected my heroine to be more forthcoming, more modern for want of a better word but she was every bit of a retiring maiden trying to conform to social expectations of the time but fortunately with a bit of spunk.

Lady Alkmene comes from an unusual background. Her father is a famous botanist and is always off in search of new plants. He does not take his daughter with him and so Alkmene has a certain degree of independence, not common amongst ladies of her kind. She is also of an enquiring mind and this has led her to many scrapes and this is the latest episode.

Overhearing a marriage proposal and subsequently linking it to a murder of a prominent, rich man, the man's death seems suspicious and she along with Dubois a journalist with a mysterious background try to find out who and what is behind the murder. Uncovering the murderer step by step is no easy task in the 1920s and we are given a very descriptive way this is done.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Carina Books.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

With love from the inside by Angela Pisel

A book about the relationship between a mother and daughter. Sad, emotional and very poignant it brings about some home truths about how much stress a relationship can take before one or the other steps away from it. Whether you can mend it or not, depends on the people involved and how far they are willing to go to try to repair damages.

Grace is on death row for the murder of her little baby son. The family disintegrated once she was accused and though Sophie her daughter did try, she found it very hard going. As a teenager it was difficult to live without a mother and when her father died as well, Sophie was left alone to cope as best as she could. Growing up, getting married to a surgeon who loved her and understood her was fine but her earlier life was a book she did not want anyone reading about. It was a secret that she had to live with.

A chance letter from her mother's attorney opened the wounds once more and Sophie had to decide whether she wanted to visit the mother she had not seen in years. Grace's execution date was growing closer and Ben her attorney was one of the few people who was clearly convinced of her innocence.
Delving further into the case it was obvious that Grace's defense had done a very poor job of her case and it was sad that despite the evidence unearthed, that it proved of no help to Grace herself.

Reconciliation and a chance to meet her daughter was enough for Grace at this point and though it was very sad, it brought closure to Sophie and also brought the couple of Sophie and Thomas much closer together than before.

Sensitively told especially for a debut novel.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Penguin Group Putnam

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Across the Common Elizabeth Berridge

Louise has left her husband of twelve years and returned to the family home at The Hollies. Her three aunts are older than ever, more eccentric than ever and each determined to keep the family honor despite hard times.  Louise lost her parents as a young child and her memories of them are hazy. An unexpected letter from her late father through his lawyers was a bolt from the blue - and apart from the very pleasant legacy of some money, his last note to her leaves behind remains of a mystery which she wants to solve.

Solving the mystery is going to be tougher than she thinks as the Aunts are determined to keep the past in the past and are perturbed at Louise's investigations. She feels however that she owes it to her father to discover the secrets in the family and put it to rest.

More of a coming of age story Louise has to decide her priorities, take charge of her life and decide which path she will take.

Sensitively told this was a book sent to me by Netgalley, courtesy of Endeavour Press for an unbiased review.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Time and Regret by M K Tod

Grace Hansen is at a crossroads in her life. She has  just lost her grandfather and is in the middle of a divorce which took her by surprise. She never saw that coming. Left a small box by her grandfather with a cryptic message, Grace feels that she owes it to his memory to follow the small clues left behind, and the hidden message and this involves going to France and following in the footsteps of her grandfather during the period he enlisted in the Army and fought in France.

Told in two separate time frames (always interesting) we go behind the scenes of the war to all the major battle stands. Very descriptive of the period of the War and also of the present times we set out with Grace on her adventure, step by step. At some point Grace realises that she is being followed but she is nonplussed as to what the reason could be. Meeting Pierre and attracted to him, she falls in love slowly with France as well, knowing full well that she has a life in America with her two young sons and the grandmother who raised her. How she is going to solve the riddle of her grandfather's legacy and at the same time balance her personal life, is going to be her dilemma.

Secrets are unraveled slowly and Grace begins to think that she can trust hardly anyone as there seems to be a conspiracy whichever way she turns. Starting from within her own family.

Mysterious and very well told the author draws us into this story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden *****

I've loved this author's writing - the perfect stillness she seems to generate throughout the book in its atmosphere of the cloister, but with all the noise, danger and petty slights and jealousies of the human race thrown in as well.

This story introduces one to the order of the Bethanie (a new one for me as well) and wasn't it educative. An order of nuns in a secluded house doing prison counselling and upliftment of women amongst the most hardened prisoners of the day. We have Sister Lise herself with a colorful background and one which she would like to keep hidden and then a host of other Sisters all equally powerful in their own right and all very necessary for the smooth and efficient functioning of the house as well.

The individual stories of the characters in this story meld beautifully. Each one is intricate, complicated and with a dark history but in the confines of the convent, each person reaches a state of peace, contentment and happiness which is enviable. I doubt that any of the individuals should they be living a more public life would be able to live so serenely the way they did, if it was not for the religion and beliefs which powered them.

As usual Ms. Godden's work is stellar. This is a book I will read again and again.

Sent to me by Open Road Integrated Media courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.