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Friday, August 31, 2018

Snap by Belinda Bauer

A car breaks down on a lonely highway. The mother strictly instructs the children to stay put and then goes in search of help. She is also heavily pregnant. When time passes and she does not return they decide to go look for her.  You know this is not going to end well within the first few pages.

Jack is the oldest, He, despite the father being around has to take on the responsibilities of his two younger siblings. Merry is just a toddler, Joy a bit older, Jack is still a very young boy. When things become overwhelming the father disappears and it is upto Jack to make sure no one knows what is going on in the house because he does not want all of them to be taken into care.

Becoming a thief and a very clever one is ideal for Jack. He just wants to support his family and this he is able to do whilst at the same time putting some money by.  He is angry with the world that he has been abandoned by both his mother (which he realises is irrational) and by his father because his father was weak.

By the time Jack is fifteen he is firmly entrenched in robbing houses and has become a master at it. Now called Goldilocks by the local force for his habit of eating and drinking food in the houses he robs, having a bath and even taking a nap, the Police force under a new entrant from the city is determined to catch him.

At the same time a woman across town discovers things in her house, mysteriously things appear and disappear, windows open and close, lights come on and ovens are switched on. For various reasons of her own she does not tell anyone even her husband even when calls come in which are eerie to say the least.

The link in the two stories is a knife and Jack is of the opinion that it is same knife in Catherine's house which killed his mother. How the stories link, overlap and come together is told in this mystery thriller.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

The Waiting Room by [Bleeker, Emily]

Veronica has lost her husband and is trying to cope with a new born. Ever since her husband's death she cannot bear to even go into the baby's room and pick her crying infant. Her mother who has moved in with her has to attend to the child.

This is the opening to the story. The surprises await you at every turn of the page and nothing is as it seems. The character Veronica is complex and the problems are psychological and seem insurmountable. How does such a person fit into society, how does society adapt to such a person.  Are there many more Veronicas around that we are not even aware of?

The story was winding but not boring. You knew things were slightly off but the writer keeps you on edge till the very end with its denouement.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Moscow Deception by Karen Robards

Bianca is very young, attractive and a thief. A very capable spy and master of the martial arts and how to handle weapons she is not an easy target but that is what she has become. The final nail in her coffin was when a murder alert was put out on her with a million dollar bounty. She knew it was only a matter of time before her luck ran out.

What Bianca had to do was find out what she could exchange in which was of value to her opposition. What they wanted seemed near impossible. The artifacts from a well guarded museum in Russia which Germany believed was rightfully theirs. How Bianca sets up on this subterfuge ringing in a band of gypsies well versed in the arts of being slightly off the grid is told in this complicated story.

Apart from the bare bones of the story we have Bianca's own history - her birth is from the fantasy genre and her father who is not her father is heart rendingly cold and indifferent to her well being. This was the only human element of the story. That Bianca felt his indifference, despite the training he gave her and then there was his final betrayal.

Very fast paced, interesting reading.

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

Friday, August 24, 2018

Murder in Keswick Sherlock Holmes by William Todd

A typical Watson and Holmes story, not very long succinctly told, very much to the point in terms of detective work and deduction.

Both Watson and Holmes have decided to go to Keswick for a long awaited holiday. Holmes has been reluctantly dragged there for the good of his health but Holmes is looking forward to invigorating walks, boating and reading. It was not meant to be!

On arrival at the station, the townsfolk are in uproar - a decapitated body of a well known local gentleman has been found. Both detectives go directly to the constabulary and from there the story commences.

The story keeps apace with suspects and plots and following up on leads. The end was definitely not one I had in mind neither were the villains! Just like the way a good detective murder mystery should be.

Old fashioned but very pleasant reading.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Her Mother's Grave by Lisa Regan

Josie Quin is chief of police. She reached this position after a very long haul. She also had an unheard of horrible childhood. Her mother was physically and mentally abusive and even tried to sell her as a child into prostitution. She however would not give up on the child, even though there was a loving grandmother waiting to take over.

Josie is now coming to terms with her life as an adult. She has lost her husband but is on an even keel. Till everything bad starts happening to her at once. It happens to all those around her as well and it is all put down to a big drug deal she busted and put influential men behind bars. The troubles still continue. Is someone trying to control her life from within prison walls.

When unrelated events start happening, pieces begin to click that it is her mother buried in the past who has risen again to haunt her and relieve her of everything she holds close - from friends, family and very important to Josie her career. Using blackmail and coercion to an unbelievable degree she forces people around her to do exactly as she likes.

This was a psychological thriller par excellence. The steps and connections were too intricate to be followed and had to be handled step by step. It is all co related and all linked but it took a psycho to be able to give reasoning to the fear, unhappiness, misery and loathing that Belinda aka Barbara aka Lila did.

Solving crimes and putting Lila behind bars was not the story. The story lay in the mental games undertaken by the killer and how detectives have to painfully follow the clues in order to prevent more killings taking place.

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

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier by Rosalind Blackenbury

This was not just a very good novel. It had drama, romance, war, death and great joy and love as well. The elements were so well drawn into together and set in two different time frames that added to the drama of the telling of the story.

We have 1913 France - brilliant and carefree. At least these characters were. Claude and Pauline. Married tolerating each other. Each fully aware of the other's frailities. Then we have Henri young the Secretary to Claude whose attraction for Pauline grows by the day. Acknowledged by Pauline but not acted upon till halfway through the story. So we had a descriptive background of Paris and rural France as well. The lives of the well to do, the literate, the peasants. There was all.

Then the outbreak of war. Henri had to enlist and then so did Claude. Like all Frenchmen who were optimistic at the time - it was not meant to be. The war dragged on and womenfolk left behind had to fend for themselves. Pauline did not do too well. She was so frightened that this last chance of happiness was going to be snatched away from her. Henri himself a writer, had written a best seller and his future was very bright. Pauline felt that she was on the edge of a precipice and all that she had lived for was going. And it did. Henri lost his life very early on in the war. Pauline was rejected by Henri's family. She was just his mistress. The isolation of it almost killed her. She picked up the pieces slowly .

It is in the retelling of the bare bones of the story in 2013 that it comes alive. It is as if Henri and Pauline, and all the other characters are very much alive and present. It did not appear that Pauline was in her 90s, that practically everyone was dead and gone. The story is a common one for the era - so many wasted lives and futures but the author did a brilliant job of giving so much life to this very ordinary love story that lifted it from being just another love story.

Love, separation, death, isolation, loneliness all handled very well. Not soppy, not over emotional but very poignant.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Everything We Give by Kerry Lonsdale

No 3 and the final book in this series. It was a miracle I managed to get them all.
Thanks to the publishers!

Ian and Aimee seem to have it all. A beautiful little girl, sufficient money to live well, a sound marriage and they are happy and content. But are they? Ian has demons in his background and he hasn't got rid of them yet. Not quite. Aimee at the same time has a lot of baggage and she is also uncertain of how to let it all go. Both of them have not quite come to terms with their past - and to let it all go they both know they have got to confront and meet the nemesis that caused them the greatest woe.

For Ian it was his mother - a woman with a split personality disorder and a father who seemed distant and disinterested. After years he seeks closure. For Aimee her past history with the Donato family is full of grave disquiet and she needs to sort out her life before going forward with her new one.

This story was complicated and twisted and for me for Ian heart wrenching what he underwent with his mother but you need to read the first two books to get a grip on this one.

I am just glad it all ended well as it was very convoluted and very dysfunctional at the start.

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ten Days One Guernsey Summer by Tony Brassell

Ten Days One Guernsey Summer

Again a story set amidst the Great War and one in an idyllic setting. Actually all the stories I've read have been idyllic settings.

This one amongst the peaceful Guernsey group of islands. A family living a quiet life, most of the inhabitants never having left the islands and then we have forced evacuation. First their eldest girl taken from them along with many other school children and sent by ship to England. For the family and the child it was devastating. The child recovers swiftly as she is placed in an aristocratic home in Scotland with many comforts - a stark contrast to the simple life in the island. For her parents it was an uneasy time, subsequently having to take decisions to move out themselves when the islands became occupied.

It also descriptively and in detail sets out the life of a bomber on the other side. His daily forays, his ideas, his total commitment to the German cause and the orders he undertakes without question as to the damage and suffering he causes. His diaries reveal in great detail the life he undertook when he joined the German airforce.

This was a poignant, emotional read but not a soppy one. It was pragmatic and down to earth at the same time. Both sides knew that this had to be gone through - at whatever price.

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

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy

I did not intend to read two books set during the same era of WW1 and II but it just happened like that. As I said before each story is so different and so unique, it shows another aspect to these wars so each story is fresh and you do not get bored at all.

Set in two separate time lines, the story of Abi is of the present times and then we go back in time to the period of Eliane Martin and her family in rural France. Abi is slowly recovering from a breakdown of a disastrous marriage. She has the mental and physical scars of the marriage and she is trying to gain control of her life after many years. An offer to work at the Chateau Bellevue is just what she needs and she throws herself wholeheartedly into this new venture. The story of the Martin family, the Resistance in France, the inevitable involvement of the whole family in myriad ways under the very eye of the Gestapo in occupied France is a marvel to read.

Fascinating was the daily domestic trivia of trying to survive, of finding food and being permanently hungry. Getting the better of the Germans who occupied their country, whilst at the same time being unable to rebel but having to bow down before them was hard but secretly each one did what they could to help out their fellow countrymen in this dire time.

The story of Eliane, her sister Mirielle, her parents and the life of the entire village as well as the Comte whose Chateau was occupied by the Germans and everyone of these people who had to work for and with Germans was galling. They did so, only with the idea of having access to some kind of information which would be of use to their fellow men.

The story of loyalty is tested over and over again. You never knew who was the traitor within your midst so it was better not to know too much. A story of love which was tested over time in this story and a family which stays united through thick and thin. Abi's  survival is also well portrayed in this book.

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

the Scandal in Honor by Heidi Ashworth A Lord Trevelin Mystery

The Scandal in Honor (Lord Trevelin Mystery #2)

Honor has been Lord Trevelin's downfall. His penchant for looking into murders, missing jewellery has not endeared him to his future father in law who refuses to settle a date for his nuptials. He is not very happy with his future son in law despite his daughter's entreaties to set a date.

Now our Lord is about to be drawn into another mystery - one which does not bode well for his relationship with his fiancee, because the main person in the mystery is a young, unencumbered lady whose antecedents are a bit vague and whose presence in society is also not very certain.

Two sudden deaths in one household are certainly suspicious and the suspects are many. Lord Trevelin is involved in the pursuit of justice and in the end it is to his detriment because he is forced to give up his love as well.

A Regency era mystery which did not end happily ever after sadly but was an entrancing tale nevertheless.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Dunhaven Place Publishing. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts

1914 London was a period of great change. For women particularly. Life was never ever going to be the same again.

Three young girls, good friends for a very long time worked at a bookshop. For one of them it was a necessity for the other two it was a means of securing a certain degree of independence in families where being independent was frowned upon. The men of the time, were finding it very hard to drag themselves out of a patrician outlook and in Alice's case particularly it was a very diplomatic road she had to trod to keep on the good side of her father.

Declaration of war with Germany changed life for everyone.  Everyone had a loved one enlist, it soon became compulsory and the hope that the war would end "by Christmas" sounded very hollow once the days went by.

Trying to keep your spirits up in the face of no news for months on end, the never ending of wounded young men returning from the front, in Alice's case having a baby whilst her husband was at the Front and facing the callous attitude of her father towards his sons put a strain on everyone's spirits.

The descriptiveness of life of Londoners in the face of bombing, privation, the rationing that seemed endless are all beautifully encapsulated in this story. It is a coming of age story in this case as well where these three young girls developed into mature young women seamlessly, despite the mental agonies each one underwent.

I am fascinated at how many stories are told about the Wars and each story is unique and so very interesting. Each one different in how it affected them and each one telling a different tale.

Sent to me by Netgalley

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Death of a Sacristan by Paul Barra

Death of a Sacristan by [Barra, Paul A.]

This was not a run of the mill mystery murder. We had plenty of history thrown in and not all of it of the palatable kind.

Bishop Lynch, Catholic and in the deep South of America owned eighty slaves. He was able to quote bible verse at every turn to uphold his belief that owning of slaves was right and just and quite equitable. They were not equal, they had to be directed and owned - they could not think for themselves (and at the time they were quite defenceless and quite without direction anyway) but it was a horrible way to behave. It was at odds with what his parish priests believed anyway. Into this atmosphere, a sacristan a pillar of the church was found murdered in the church itself.

Our junior priest has been formerly a police officer in New York and he uses his skills in trying to find who was responsible for this murder. It does not go down well with the local police chief who is very anti Catholic but who has many omissions on his side to hide as well.  The murder literally uncovered a can of worms ranging from the local police force being involved in every wrong doing possible from trading with the North (treasonable offense) to lynching of a Negro to intimidation of witnesses and to even attempted murder of anyone trying to uncover who was responsible.

The culprit was of course completely different and this was the lovely part of this mystery!

As I said the murder mystery part was just a small part of the book. History played a great and very interesting role.

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

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Taste of Air by Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air

A lady in assisted living leading a quiet retired life. Two daughters who love their mother but who lead busy lives themselves. When a call comes from a hospital with the news that their mother was admitted with acute pneumonia, both girls are extremely perplexed. Vermont is several hours away from where their mother lived. How did she get there? Was she involved in an accident?

Nell goes hoping to find answers. What she uncovers is a life led by her mother going back decades. A life unknown to their father, unknown to them. Their mother had friends, a community of people who loved and supported her throughout this period and how she was able to keep this a secret is something they couldnt figure out.

The premise of the story was an interesting one. I expected there to be much more of interest in Mary's secret life. It was more mundane than that. Having being a carer for a husband with Alzheimer's this was a bolt hole for Mary but it started long before that. For Mary it started when her marriage went through a dull and bad patch and she needed a place of her own. She obviously never wanted to be a burden to her children and this was the way she sought to keep her life on an even keel.

I went into the double life expecting much more drama than there was! Nell and Bridget were two girls who accepted with equanimity the life of their mother, and understood why she did it the way she did.

Interesting story.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

Compared to a modern mystery thriller murder book, the Classics are a bit tame. The language, the imagery is slower and the characters are more sedate. The murder however remains the same. Invariably vicious, well planned meticulously so in most cases and very similar to modern murder stories.

This one set in a country style house - the imagery is one of resplendent splendour but at the same time a shadow seemed to hover over it all. A very mixed bunch of invitees - invited to the home of the eccentric owner who is well known the world over for his fabulous collection of jewels. There is a shadow of doubt about the genuineness of his collection but there has been no proof at all of theft. All those invited have one item of fabulous jewellery with them except for Jim, who is impoverished, after the war at a loose end, no job and has no clue as to why he was invited for the weekend.

The story unravels slowly but you do know that it is connected with gems and robbery well planned. Jim was the surprise element. A touch of romance. All ends well.

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