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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Proud Sinner by Priscilla Royal and The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

A medieval mystery murder/s set in an abbey. The age old reason - the struggle for power and supremacy. Was there then, is still here now!
The setting was beautiful and descriptive. The workings of the abbey fascinated me and how women of the time tried to manage their lives in the restricted sphere they were allocated to. How men tried to control women, their possessions and their power for their own greed.
Very well told.
Sent to me by Poisoned Press courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

A story set in a beachside town. The air from the very beginning light hearted. This is a town where people come back for summer vacations and the actual inhabitants of the town are few and far between. Was very difficult to visualise for someone who comes from a crowded city where houses are never closed and always full of people!
The story of a family and their love for a house which they are going to eventually lose to the sea. Erosion has taken its toll on the coastline and their house is one of the victims. Twined into the loss of the house is the failure of a marriage, family relationships and a new love affair which is just beginning.
A light hearted read which was very enjoyable given the background setting.
Sent to me by St. Martin's Press courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Irish Tempest by Elizabeth J. Sparrow

My knowledge of Irish English relations was a bit hazy and this helped in a way to clear some of the misconceptions I had.

The year 1911 and there is a simmering discontent amongst all walks of Irishmen. Unlike most rebellions which are confined to the labour and lower working class, this transcends class barriers and upper class folk also want to throw off the yoke of English supremacy in their own country.

Thrown together by circumstance and geography Court and Lacey lives are interwoven from the time Lacy was an infant and Court a teenager. The relationship is a tender one from the very onset but circumstances of a mixed up reasoning drives Court to take a position in the English Army in India for three years. Lacey is heart broken but is also attracted by a scheming and charismatic horse trainer in her family's employ.

The Easter Uprising of 1916 is meshed into the story along with the fledgling romance of Lacey and Court, their marriage and their future.

This was a very fine debut novel and I am waiting for the sequel.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Secrets we Keep by Faith Hogan

Sometimes it is better to keep the past in the past. The old adage of digging up history and not finding it palatable is somewhat true. For Iris and Archie resurrecting the past, now that they are quite old is difficult and not easy, for their grand niece Kate it is a revelation of her own family history of which she has scant knowledge. Her return to Bath is a pilgrimage of sorts. She wants to lay to rest her own turbulent life - being a top class divorce lawyer has its minus points - and she wants to finally seek some peace from having had her heart broken.

Moving six hundred miles away to start a new life, Kate does not realise that on the other side is Todd her heart breaker who having suffered a heart attack is also seeking an alternative lifestyle. Coincidences are strange but having him turn up in Ballytokeep is one for the books. It disrupts Kate's peace of mind as well as the village who now have a celebrity in their midst in the form of a rock star albeit a bit aged in Todd.

The pitfalls of having secrets, the ties of family bonds are the basis of this story. Set in the past and present in two timelines which is always interesting, the story is also descriptive of this part of the English county.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

Another classic from a well loved era WWI.

Eve is just another widow in this horrible war. Living in Belgium working for the Red Cross in occupied Belgium, she works for the hated Germans but is living a double life. Her work in the Red Cross and her having won an Iron Cross for services to the Germans gives her access to information and people which are useful for the allies.  Underneath the facade she is heart broken with the loss of not just her husband but her sister and brother who would be eighteen and fourteen were they alive.
Taken on a train to the deadly camps, she has little hope for their survival.

Unexpectedly things change and the tension and progress of the story ramps up. Her husband is alive, parachuted into Belgium, injured but alive. No one knows his identity and it is upto her to prevent it getting known. She has also got to know that her siblings had jumped off the train and are alive in France. Getting them out is going to be formidable. Occupied France like Belgium has strict border controls.

The enterprise, strength of mind and courage of this woman is loosely based on a factual story and is just another angle from which we know about this war. The occupation of a country must be a horrible existence for the survivors and this is descriptively detailed in the story. I found it very difficult but at the same time engrossing what means people will find to somehow betray the occupiers of their land, sabotage them and generally be a pain in their side. The occupiers themselves have to feel that they are disliked, hated and just tolerated because there is no choice. It cannot be easy to live in those circumstances, always on guard because you do not know from where the next attack would come.

I was sent this book from Bethany House Publishers, courtesy Netgalley, for an unbiased review. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

Rachel and David both enter a marriage with deep, dark secrets. Each have their own agenda but one thing they do have in common. They want whats best for Jamie the little boy left bereft after his mother's tragic death. Carnhallow House where David takes Rachel to live is an added bonus. On the coast of Cornwall, it does have a tragic history with tin mining taking precedence but it has been the family home for David and his ancestors for generations. The fact that Rachel fell in love with the house as well was a real bonus.

Nothing however is what it seems and the onset of strange utterances from Jamie with disjointed unrelated stuff from David's ailing mother makes Rachel begin to think that Nicola's death was not the straight forward accident it seemed to be and Jamie seems to have some vision for the future which does not bode well for Rachel.

Taking twists and turns of the most unexpected, the depths to which someone would go to safeguard a "thing" in this case Carnhallow House over a relationship and an actual living being shows what attachment and in a sense greed could do to a human. Not being too attached to worldly stuff is something that Buddhism always speaks about and I guess this is a good thing.  David considered Rachel expendable in the greater scheme of his life when compared to his family home and this overall affected the entire story.

A mystery it was, but a psychological saga would be more descriptive of this very good book.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

Gemma has become lead investigator of the Homicide division in her small town of Smithson through sheer grit and hard work. Being a woman detective has never been easy and earning her stripes was hard. She is determined to do the best she is capable of and she is capable of doing much. Her boss knows and trusts her with this latest assignment.

A young teacher, much liked by students and peers is found murdered and her body floats on the nearby lake. Surrounded by red roses the find is a macabre one for this town where incidents of minor robberies or a domestic violence issue is the most that the cops have to face. Is it a random killing or something more. The whole town is on edge and the Chief wants it done and dusted asap.

Nothing is what it seems like and delving into the history of the girl's family unearths a complicated background which had been hidden until now. The teacher herself though popular, is someone whom no one actually knew very well and her personal history alone is skimpy with no apparent clues as to how she lived, who her friends were and what her future plans were.

Unraveling the mystery among Gemma's own personal turmoil of partner, son and lover all clashing in the midst of an investigation was going to be an upheaval of its own. Balancing the personal with her career Gemma has to come to a decision on her personal life as well.

The story with its surprising twists and turns was told in a time line day by day which heightened the tension of the story. One knew a climax of some sort was coming which added to the interest of the story.

The setting of a small town four hours away from the nearest big city of Sydney was also descriptive and I did like how the weather in this area affected the tone of the day to day happenings in the town. That was unusual in itself.

Sent to me by Grand Central Publishing for an unbiased review, via Netgalley, this was a very good book. 

Crown of Passion by Jocelyn Carew

When one becomes a ward of a unscrupulous king one is at the mercy of his wishes. William II was one such king and Gwyn realised very early on that she would need all her wits about her to survive. It did not help that her guardian in this case was disoriented and did not care about her welfare. Her only concern was to survive herself and somehow protect her young son.

The court was corrupt and the advisors to the King worse. Gwyn found out that love had no place in the court and those who professed it only meant to please themselves or further their own place in the court. It was a bitter pill to swallow. She loved unwisely and had to rein herself in and not risk her life. As it is she lost her entire dowry to the greedy king who actually wagers her to the highest bidder. Seeking escape, escape she does but then ends up with a man who is worse than all of them. Married to him and with no means of escape she thinks this is her fate but fate has a strange way of upsetting everyone's plans and it ends well.

Love triumphs, good over evil and it was a pleasant ending to an unpleasant tale of avarice, men's over riding power over women and at a time where women were merely chattels of either their fathers or their husbands.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Knightsbridge Scandal by Anita Davison

1903 is a good period. A period of great change particularly for women with the beginning of the suffragette movement though it still had a long way to go. Attitudes of men were also changing albeit slowly.

Flora our heroine has come to London seeking out her father whom she has never met nor been acknowledged by upto this time. All along she thought herself the daughter of the butler, a governess by profession and was looked at condescendingly by all including her mother in law. Her husband thank goodness is a perfectly decent man.

Flora is as her wont goes slap bang into a murder and a mystery which will take her to the very highest in the land. The ramifications of a murder which was thought first to be a robbery gone wrong, then linked to the victims connections to the suffragette movement move steadily upwards to a Serbian gang operating in London right under the eye of the very highest.

Very descriptive of not just the mystery and the murder it was, but also of the life and times of the period and London in particular, this was a very good piece of writing and one I enjoyed tremendously.

Many thanks to Netgalley for sending it to me, courtesy of Aria for an unbiased review.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam

This was complicated in a good way. Eventually it made sense. Starting from the academia of Harvard we cross to Pakistan in search of an extinct whale who walked the earth, we then cross over to Bangladesh. Here we then come to the family saga story as well. Complicated again because the conflict of ideology between the old brigade and the young people, the identity crisis of who you actually are, trying to conform to traditional roles is rather difficult for Zubaida but she does try.

An archaelogical search to unearth something strange and unheard of entwined with a love story of Zubaida who is trying to balance the sudden appearance of love with the expected role which she has never said no to of being the bride of a family friend where they are just waiting for her return to announce an engagement. How does Zubaida reconcile the two? how does she think her role as wife in a traditional household will work with her career?

A conflict which is ever present for modern educated girls in Asia - where do you draw the line between personal desires and the desires of the family. Unlike in Western culture, in closed small communities in Asia it is the community that is important not the individual and how much is one willing to sacrifice for this. The story with the unusual theme of paleontologists, political upheaval, tribal warfare, love and family was beautifully told as it is always by this author.

Haunting and deeply emotional.

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

I was looking forward to this book for quite some time so when I got it I was quite excited.

Like all her stories, they are never the straight forward thriller mystery murders or psychological thrillers of other authors (though they are very good as well). Hers always has a twist in the tale but this time around this was a little tame in comparison to her previous stories.

Lindsey and Andrew start life as newly weds, madly in love and expecting life to be good. Fast forward and we discover Andrew is abusive Lindsey is dead scared, and though she knows she should get out of the marriage she does know that Andrew will pursue her and eventually kill her. A freak accident which puts Andrew in jail gives her the opening she needs and she flees the known into the unknown and makes a new life for herself.

With Andrew's release from prison her safe haven is gone and she knows its only a matter of time before Andrew finds her and shakes up the peaceful life and future she has planned for. What she did not account for was her teenage daughter Sophie to be having contacts with the father whom she has only faint remembrances of and who brings Andrew very much to the scene.

The ending is not the one we want, neither was it expected though there are hints that you have to look elsewhere for the "baddie",

Very well told keeping you on edge throughout.

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Girls by Helen Yglesias

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I liked the description of this book. So much written about young people, older people on the periphery only and these were very old! eighty and upwards four sisters five years gap between them and all very much aware of what is happening to them and the surroundings and their future, limited though it seemed.

Jenny has turned up being the youngest to help Flora, the flamboyant one assist in the moving of Eva and Naomi to an assisted living home. The eldest is 95 articulate and sensitive and each sister is quite articulate with Flora being the extrovert and outgoing still thinking she is attractive to the opposite sex and quite flirtatious!

Interesting read on four different characters of women, how aging affects each of us in different ways (I am sure most readers can identify with one of these women!) I was certainly able to. Very nice take on the aging process and what we should or shouldn't possibly do to avoid embarrassing our children!

Sent to me by Delphinium Books Open Road via Netgalley,  for an unbiased review.