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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.