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Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Mistress of Pennington by Rachel Trimble

Set in 1910 with the suffragette movement getting into full sway, women in general seemed to have had a tough time with men during this period. It seemed to be even more rigid than ever before and someone like Elizabeth the only child and heir to the Pennington empire was no match for her father and other males of the time.

Elizabeth was hard working, passionate about her job at Pennington's the finest department store in Bath and was determined to take the store forward but was being held back at every turn by her father who felt that marriage and a family was the best thing for her. Trying to break this was going to be a herculean task and Elizabeth sole aim was for her to let her father see what she was capable of. That she had made a success of the Ladies Department entrusted to her did not seem to count with him. She had to make him see her for what she could do.

Joseph Carter was a small time businessman - making gloves and hats. He knew the day of the small shop keeper was doomed and despite his father not being happy he felt that aligning himself to a big store was the way to survive.

Joseph and Elizabeth were kindred spirits. Both suffered in their personal lives but together they knew there was a way forward.

This story alongside a romance, brought out the fact that hard work and determination pays and that you can succeed despite the odds. Descriptively told it also brings to light the attitudes and what life was like in the early 20th century.

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter

Daphne and Heath were soul mates. At least Daphne thought so and she really, really believed that Heath was of like mind. So why did he want to take a week off to go to an obscure, remote part of the country to see a psychotherapist - one whose work though not questionable was a bit suspicious. Why did Heath have these terrible nightmares which made him so different to the person whom he was normally.

This is a book which keeps you on edge. You are taken along to this remote mansion, three couples only in residence all seeking therapy. No communication is supposed to take place, no cell phones, no ipads. You need to focus on your therapy or so it seems. Daphne is not someone who is going to take these orders lying down. For starters she has refused the therapy involved in couples therapy so its Heath going it alone. For a second, she is suspicious throughout of the Doctor involved and despite his very pleasant attitude and conversation with her she is on guard.

Of course the end is completely unexpected - I did not expect it to turn out quite like it did and it just proves that one really does not know a person very well despite having a relationship and thinking that you do understand everything there is to know about someone.

This was a creepy psychological thriller - but it did keep one going where you just had to know what was going to happen to Daphne and Heath and then the good Doctor!

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sins of the Father by Stephen Weeks (A Countess of Prague Mystery)

Dealing with a Countess (in Prague) brought to mind the Lady Julia Grey series. Somewhat similar we have our Countess definitely different to ladies of her time - courageous, bold, not bothered about opinions of others very much but still knowing that nothing will be achieved by being too bold.

Having successfully solved a crime in 1904 involving royalty, she has now been brought to the attention of the Emperor of Hapsburg who has sought her assistance in solving a mystery. One which is so delicate, that it cannot even be discussed with all and sundry. How does one go about even trying to solve a case without exploring avenues and talking to people.

Set over several countries and very descriptive with both her unflappable butler Muller and maid Sabine who are her stalwarts the Countess begins on an adventure which she fears she may not succeed at.

Very witty, humourous and holding your interest throughout this was a good mystery read. Of a slightly old fashioned kind.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Undiscovered Country by Mike Nemeth

Dysfunctional does not cover this family. The Marks family is and they are all pulling in different directions all with different motives when it comes to their mother who is now ill, needs permanent care.

The power of money and greed seem to overcome all human emotions and feelings and we have three children in a squabble over their mother's assets even before she is gone. She just wants to go peacefully but she also knows that she has left behind secrets and a can of worms that is just going to erupt. She is not at peace.

Randle the eldest just out of prison finds the path to handling his mother's illness fraught with obstacles. Billy his brother just wants it over and done with. No hospice, no aftercare just done and dusted. Katy his sister is strangely absent, later discovered with a drug addict which has led to her and his brother in law robbing everything they could lay their hands on just to feed her drug habit. How does he fresh out of prison walk a tightrope between them and his fiancee who wants him to return home in time for a wedding in a weeks time!

Family ties, family secrets and family enmities erupt in this book. Very well written. Holds your interest throughout.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Morgan James Publishing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Mum Who'd Had Enough by Fiona Gibson

This is a fun read, light hearted in parts but it is also a very serious subject handled very nicely.
It is also very realistic, brings home a lot of truths which many of us may not want to face.

People get married, they have a family. Seemingly settled, each in their own career whether home making or high powered both men and women as this is a modern book but after sometime does a shade of complacency creep in? It may in some people be shrugged off as part of life but in Sinead's case it was not so and one day over a simply innocuous act of her husband Nate not putting out the mouse traps despite repeated reminders, it all boils over. Everyone has had that catalyst!

Nate is confounded by the fact that Sinead has walked out. She has also left him a hand written list of shortcomings on his part (sadly no good points) and he genuinely does not know what to make of it. He is very much in love with his wife and just does not get it, till friends and companions gently point out to him that this could be a wake up call, to mend his ways to get his wife back.

Venturing out into fields unknown Nate genuinely tries and a reconciliation seems on the cards. Sadly it does not go to plan but this book was very good both in its plot and characterization and you certainly did not feel left out or down.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Widow's Watcher by Eliza Maxwell

Jenna stumbles upon Lars unintentionally but it seems like fate. Both have suffered unimaginable loss of family in very hard circumstances. Lars however lives in uncertainty  whereas Jenna has given up all hope. Jenna is suicidal and just wants to end it all. Lars is living on borrowed time. His heart will give up any day soon.

How Lars rescues Jenna from a watery death and how Jenna repays the favor by digging into his past uncovering the sad story of his wife and two children and tries to look at it with a fresh eye investigating what has been painstakingly gone over - over and over again by not just Lars but by private investigators as well. What she uncovers gives a glimmer of hope to Lars, so that he can get some kind of closure and understanding over a three decade misery.

That Jenna herself will benefit from Lars mission was not apparent at first but helping out someone else did work miracles for Jenna herself. That she is able to live for herself is what Jenna gets from the entire experience.

This was a particularly sad story, but very well written. Characterization was spot on and the plot was good.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A murder on Wall Street by Owen Parr

Two more unlikely private investigators - siblings or rather half brothers - one a retired detective who was pushed out of the force for political reasons despite an excellent track record and the other a Catholic priest.

Part of a series but the first book I've read it held my interest throughout with its mix of detective work, tongue in cheek humour, a very nice Irish bar as a setting and incompetent police detectives also in play.

A suicide  who happened to drink the previous night at the bar and who was in high spirits convinces Father Dom that there is more than meets the eye in this case. Why is everyone trying to hurry the case through. Ruled a suicide and cremated a day later are all clues gone? Not quite so fast because inquiries reveal a real can of worms. From money laundering to drug deals, from scams of every kind and then murder and attempted murder to cover up the traces our two uncovers a long list of culprits being brought to book.

Very nicely told, very light and very plausible.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Monday, June 11, 2018

White Houses by Amy Bloom

White Houses

Two more unlikely lovers are found in this book. We have the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, aloof, patrician and rich. A lady born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Nurtured and admired by her husband (notoriously unfaithful though!) and then we have Lorena Hickok born on the wrong side of the tracks, disliked Eleanor at first sight and rough diamond if ever there was one.

A forbidden love affair, the friend in the White House which everyone knew but was never discussed. A subject matter which was anyway never up for discussion. A love affair which matured which had its fair share of adulterous relationships on the way, its ups and downs and the tragedy for Lorena that it was never acknowledged openly, that she was always relegated to the background. Photographs with her in it were cropped and the media was restrained (unlike now).

This piece of history is never spoken of but it existed alright. Told very evocatively, very emotional, at the same time pragmatic within the guidelines of its times, the author told this story very well.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Fire in the Thatch by E C R Lorac

This classic mystery murder is slightly different to the other books found in the series. The murder was more complicated than most and what seemed like an accident was then deemed to be not. To find a motive and to unravel the mystery took some doing and it was this that set this story apart.

Set in beautiful countryside, very descriptive and sounding very "English" this story epitomizes country living - especially farm living. It also depicts the insular ways of established country folk who really do not like weekenders and town folk aping them in anyway! The murder apart the story of the farmers and the community who made up this little part of Devon.

When the cottage goes up in flames killing the occupant in the process it affects many people especially since Nicholas despite not being from Devon, was much admired  in the manner he worked and his sincerity to make a success of the farm he leased. Inspector Macdonald has a very convoluted mystery murder to solve. He has an instinct as to the underlying reason why Nicholas was killed but to connect the dots takes a lot of dogged police procedure (which was very well done).

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

The Good Liar

A complicated story, told in several narratives all beginning with an explosion in a building in Chicago which claimed over 500 lives.

What happens when something like this occurs is immense. The immediate tragedy is evident. The loss, the grief. Then comes the practicalities of life which involve those left behind. How do wives cope with untold secrets, of untold financial burdens, of marital secrets slowly unraveling.

The stories of the women left behind by this Chicago tragedy are complicated. They are also linked in unimaginable ways. Whilst slowly unraveling you do know where this is going, but the end is totally, absolutely unexpected.

Done with flair, handling emotions so very well this author is brilliant.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Mackenzie Cooper is now Maggie Reid. She has tried and been very successful in remaking her life after a disastrous accident took away the life of her child whilst she was driving. The grief following this accident destroyed her marriage and she and Edward are now divorced. Maggie lives a very structured life, alone but settled well into this small community where she is liked with a few friends who have no inkling of her previous life.

Edward buying a Inn and moving into this small town will definitely upset Maggie. On top of it all, she feels her brother has turned traitor when she discovers he is the new chef at the Inn joining her ex husband in this new endeavour. However what really turns Maggie's world upside down is when her colleague's son Chris just fifteen years old is caught hacking into the computers of not just the Inn but of customers of the Inn and now faces federal prison. The ensuing publicity, media frenzy that descends on this town fills Maggie with foreboding as she knows it is only a matter of time when people start connecting the dots and discovering who she is. Someone with a past and a record.

The story though it is about Maggie and Edward mainly also chronicles the life of Grace and Chris - the boy at the middle of the hacking saga, with a lot of secrets that Grace wants kept hidden. How the two stories interact though totally disconnected from each other and how it evolves is very well done.

Friendship, small town support (and gossip) all keep the story going and the love story binding Maggie and Edward is a plus.

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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger

It seems perfectly plausible that a person can reinvent themselves (only in America!). In my country they would have sussed out from where you came, who your parents were, what did your brother do and even find out what school you went to very early. I doubt you'd get away with this here.

The story fascinated me. Leah has ended a troubled relationship. She has been friends with Emmy over a very long time. Emmy invites her to rural Pennsylvania and for Leah this is ideal. She can make a new start and hopefully the past will remain in the past. Her teaching position in the local school is without any problems and Leah hopes that she can fast track her career in this way baby steps at a time.

When Emmy disappears and Leah is forced to inform the local police about her friends absence things turn tricky for Leah. For one, there is no one who can corroborate Emmy's presence. There is no paper trail, no identity, no bills and when Emmy's boyfriend turns up murdered the police turn skeptical as to whether someone like Emmy actually existed and whether  it is a figment of Leah's imagination. Leah's history does not help either.

It is left to Leah herself to try to find out what happened to her friend and what she discovers is a body blow as it is obvious that Emmy pursued her purely to steal her identity to make a new life for herself. How she did it was ingenious, convoluted and mind boggling.

Apart from the main characters of Leah and Emmy, everyone in this story has something to hide and in a small town, this is not easy. Unraveling the murders, solving them and finding Emmy was more than enough for this story.

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