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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Longbourn Library by Trudy Willis

Longbourn Library: A Novel of Pride, Prejudice, and Books

I seldom get to a Pride & Prejudice variation unless I win a book in a giveaway so this was a free download from Amazon which was a pleasant surprise.

Set in an Idaho library mainly we have all our characters - Liz feisty librarian, Jane sweet, Mary quoting good deeds and Kitty being Kitty. Mrs. Bennett being slightly different though gossipy and Mr. Bennett being a good soul. The characters are all there but are placed not as a family(which is what I gathered) which added to the variety. Darcy and Bingley are friends and Wickham is still the pariah of the lot!

It was a fun and entertaining read. What I really needed to get my mind off Melbourne weather.
To add to the misery we have an electricity breakdown which lasted from 10 pm to 6 am this morning. At least it came on this morning. Thank God for small mercies.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Secrets she Keeps by Michael Robotham

Two pregnant women. One seemingly a single mother, a low paid job of stacking shelves in a small supermarket. The other her third baby unexpected, but welcomed by her at least, Husband handsome, well employed, financially stable. A stay at home mum who has her inner circle of friends, the other a loner.

Hidden like in every situation are secrets, most of which should not see the light of day. Agatha our single mum is a mixed up woman who watches and plots and plans with deep envy Meghan's life. Meghan on the other hand has her own worries. A one off one night stand with her husband's best friend - could this pregnancy be the result. Who is the father of this child. Her troubles start when Simon wants to know definitely whether he is the father. DNA testing will prove this of course but it would also break up her marriage and her life.

Agatha;s machinations are Machiavellian - we do not know or realise what they are till well into the story. Her pregnancy, the eventual birth are meticulous in the planning and execution and the subsequent drama which involves Meghan's baby son can never be traced back to Agatha.

Police work detailed, backbreaking and laborious unravel the story step by step.

This was a real psychological thriller. Not a murder mystery but a look into the mind of a sad and twisted woman for whom no holds were barred to achieve her goal. Anyone who fell by the side was a victim to her needs.

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rita Mae is frightened of her own shadow. Having lived with an extremely abusive husband and with great courage sought some kind of freedom she lives in constant fear of being found out. Her character is one which today most of us would have trouble dealing with. Why couldn't she break away earlier when she had the chance, why wait so long, why be so frightened when opportunity was there to break free.

No one can understand the psyche of someone else and that becomes the bottom line even in this novel.

In another small town Dorrie tries to escape from her own history. She gets up one morning in a small hotel not knowing how or why she is there. Why is there a bloodstain on her coat, why has she drunk so much whiskey. Many questions for which there seems to be no answers.

Both women are terribly insecure, they do not know whom to trust and how to unravel their past and face the future.

Though as one reviewer said the story is said to be set in the 1980s, it was very old fashioned. Maybe the two main characters were styled on women in the early 1920s and so it seemed very conventional.

The story did not hold my interest at all until almost at the end. I do not like DNF stories and have very seldom kept a book aside so I did continue. The good part was in the ending.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Of Men and Women by Pearl S. Buck

A woman who spent many years in China, on her return to the United States Pearl S. Buck found so many contrary characteristics amongst both men and women in their attitudes and in the cultural differences that existed that she wrote this short book of nine chapters with the idea of founding an idea of living in peace and harmony provided equality existed between the sexes.

One of our earliest women activists I would not agree on all of Ms. Buck's views especially today. Though a short book it covers a wide array of topics from polygamy to monogamy, women and war, women and family life which will hold anyone's interest as the subjects were so varied.

Quite philosophical, taken in a small doses like this one book, it was a good read. You did not necessarily have to agree with Ms. Buck at all.

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

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Assassin of Verona by Benet Brandreth

The Assassin of Verona (William Shakespeare Thriller #2)

Looking at Shakespeare from this angle was a totally different experience. These are considered a story on the "lost" years of which I knew nothing so I came to this story with an open mind. 

My knowledge of Shakespeare is limited to what I learnt in school. We actually did quite a lot of it but some of it just does not register at the age of 14! it should be taught to over 40s actually as it will make sense then. Anyway history and plenty of it, fiction and a clever author blend into a story that is fascinating and enthralling. 

Working as a spy for the Queen, uncovering a papal plot to assassinate the Queen it is upto Shakespeare and his cohorts to uncover the culprits and bring them to the Queen's attention before it is too late

The tale gets more complicated by romance, corrupt officials, ruthless clergymen and Shakespeare has to somehow find his way back to England.

I enjoyed the story of historical fiction peopled by very well known characters (with a twist of course).

My reviews posted from Melbourne are complicated! Blogger is not allowing me at times to access my blog. Today was a lucky stroke where I am able to post reviews on books I've read and posted reviews elsewhere.

On another note the temperatures in Melbourne sky rocketing as they are right now are not conducive to anything even reading. Coming from very tropical Sri Lanka I am very surprised how difficult I am finding to cope with Melbourne heat.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On a Desert Shore by S.K. Rizzolo

I seem to be reading very busy books of late! so many strands woven into a whole and making a cohesive one is not very easy to do and in this Regency mystery even more so.

We have a society lady, daughter of a rich merchant but she is not a conventional, orthodox miss. Expected to marry well and take her family further up the social ladder, she has failed to do so and now lives in Clapham. And someone is being nasty and it is upto the Bow Street runner the very experienced John Chase to decide whether it is actually Marina herself who has cunningly made herself to be a victim or who is playing tricks on her. There are many suspects and all of them have equal stakes for a very high playing game.

There are additional characters of a lady who has scandalized society as it is by earning her living by writing and her lover a barrister. When invited by Marina's father to join his household John Chase's own story becomes even more difficult to handle. He must seek the support of Penelope the writer and Edward the barrister to overcome so many obstacles and find the truth of who is behind the dangers.

Going from calm and quiet London to the treacherous plantations of Jamaica the story is full of life, vitality and danger.

After a steady diet of too many psychological thrillers and mystery murders, it was nice to read a Regency novel with a twist!

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

Two separate time lines 1940 and 2017. The first was turbulent. No one knew where Hitler's tentacles would reach next. In Belgium the German armies are about to invade a small monastery and steal as much art as they could. A British spy has another plan. His idea is to plant a bible amongst the treasures, one that will foretell and could change the course of history.

Fast forward to 2017. Here the story gets complicated. We have a discovery of a long forgotten murder in London, a Russian historian whose knowledge is legendary in history but who leads a very simple life back in Russia and then the appearance of six dictaphone tapes purported to be made by Noel Coward for Winston Churchill and then to crown it all the well documented activities of an American President with his counterpart in Russia.

The story was good, it was formidably plausible but there was too much going on that the scenes got a little crowded. I think we could have got rid of both the Presidents and the story would still be a very credible one!!!

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

the Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood

I seem to have been buried under mystery/thriller murder books and just came up for a breath of fresh air of a different kind.

History - Mary Queen of Scots and a new aspect of her tumultuous history. She had four ladies in waiting all called Mary. It was almost like joining a nunnery because they had to dedicate their lives and they all did to the wishes, beliefs and life of Queen Mary.

1548 and five little girls are taken from their homes in Scotland for training in France all to serve another Mary. With only vague recollections of their Scottish roots they train in France till one day a decade later they are called back to serve in their homeland. The upheaval, the uprooting, the difficulty of adapting to a new, different, harsher way of life which will show reality in all its ugliness now awaits them. Their loyalties will be tested and for Mary Seaton especially the times are going to be hard.

How she has to chart a future for herself as well without endangering in any way the views and life of the Queen are going to be a challenge for Seton. She serves the longest and she knows the Queen or thinks she knows her the best. But does she?

This aspect of Mary Queen of Scots was from a more personal side of history - her life the way it started, how she was maneuvered into not just one marriage, coerced into another and how keeping up with the formidable Elizabeth on the other side was not going to be a life of much ease. Told from the personal aspect of the women who served her, this was an uncommonly good read.

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

On another note I will be away from home for a month visiting my children in Melbourne. I do hope I find the time to post here. I have been finding it hard to find the time to read and review the way I used to do. I hope I can catch up with the reading at least whilst overseas!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Two good British Crime Classics.

Seven people found dead inside an isolated house. House locked from the inside. The owners a gentleman and his niece the normal occupants of the house missing. Then traced to France. Motives and suspects are all zero.

The story published in 1939 has an old fashioned air and style of writing which is at the same time charming. Slow paced but steady the investigation is pursued. By deduction it is solved.

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

Death Makes a Prophet (Superintendent Meredith, #11)

1940s Welworth Garden City has attracted its fair share or more of free thinkers. Fairly liberal for the era it is also home to a community following a particular way of thinking - the organisation of Coo with its own head of fairly eccetric characters.

Like all communities, there are secrets and blackmailers and murderers and it is upto Inspector Meredith to sort it out and bring back a sense of calm to this city.

A classic mystery crime book which with its religious sect overtones was very good.

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