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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Proposal by S E Lynes

The Proposal

This was a thriller in every sense of the word. At times I could not quite get my head around why Pippa acted the way she did.

Pippa was definitely an out of the box person. Her actions did not follow the routine and her good friend knew that she was governed by feelings and something so reckless that she did not even think of her own safety most of the time.

It was the recklessness which drove her to take over Ryan's story - a travelling salesman who turned up at her door. She invited him in and her proposal of payment for his life story began and ended the story.

The book drew me in and repelled me at the same time. I felt too much on edge to really enjoy the read and I am not one for discarding a book halfway. But it was not a plodding read. I read it with nervous interest is what I would say as I know it could not get better.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What Happened to Us? by Faith Hogan

Carrie and Kevin have a good relationship professionally. Running a very successful restaurant they complement each other. Kevin taking care of the kitchen and Carrie taking care of everything else. In their personal lives, they have got into a rut. Carrie still takes care of all the financial details of their lives and the housekeeping whilst Kevin leads a very relaxed life. 

When a bolt from the blue comes in the form of a Colombian waitress that Carrie herself has taken on, Carrie knows she has to get to grips with her life and decide what she wants to do. She has invested herself in the restaurant and does not intend to calmly hand it over (hurrah!). She is also very fond of her small home and offers a fair deal for Kevin who in the throes of love and lust is willing to do anything to make his new love happy. His new love's happiness lies in spending his money as fast as he can make it and she takes him to the cleaners!

The story of how Carrie survives, Kevin barely comes out of the whole thing unscathed but with severe lessons learnt and how Carrie finds a new life and love interest is very happily told. I was very happy for Kevin as there are many Kevins in this world and he got his just desserts!

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

The Girl from Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl from Berlin (Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart #5)

This book like all those set during the great World Wars is so emotional, so factual, so matter of fact at most times that it brings all the cruelty, the in humaneness of dictators, of racism, of actual bitter hatred back, that it is frightening. It also spins a story of generations of people who strive to survive, of selflessness and always thinking of others.

Set in Germany our family is upper middle class Jewish. Educated in the arts at the height of his career Baumgarten does not think that his life is going to be fraught with danger. Even when all the signs show that Jews are no longer to be tolerated, he is protected by his profession and goes on for much much longer than others. It is at others persuasion that he knows that the future for his daughter who is herself a prodigy is bleak that moves are made to send them out of Germany to Bologna.

From here the story of Ada and her mother evolves always with the hateful Nazi powerforce behind them. Italy is not safe either but where else are they to go. Opportunities are there in Vienna but Austria is swallowed by Nazi Germany. They have left going to America too late and with the death of Ada's grandfather that sponsorship avenue is closed to them.

Told in two time lines. WW1 and 2017 the story starts from trying to prevent an old lady Gabriella from being evicted from her vineyard where she has lived for 70 odd years. Even though judgement has been given, her nephew approaches a hot shot lawyer in Chicago pleading with her to take the case. Facing obstacle after obstacle Caroline and Liam knows that the whole thing is off when registrar books are missing, lawyers are evasive and seem to have been bought over, one clerk turns up murdered and a company that no one knows anything about.

In history you go back decades to turn up a hatred between a German officer and a young girl and someone who seeks revenge at every turn.  Unraveling pages of a family history that is convoluted at best, you also read about slices of history that most people would like to forget.

The characterization was excellent, the story telling even more so.

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan

A Light of Her Own

In 1633 any woman with ambition was fighting a losing battle. Never mind ambition women did not seem to hold any position other than being daughters or wives and if neither worked it was a terrible life for any of them.

For Judith abandoned by her father and mother through circumstances of debt, her brother who was her only family now getting involved in shady activities, Judith with her ambition of being an artist and becoming a member of the Guild had ambitions far beyond the usual woman of the time. With hardly any money to set herself up, she was nevertheless determined to do so.

The story of Judith's endeavours despite immense hardship, obstacles and sheer pig headedness of men around her was a tough read. It is factually true according to the author in several instances and an artist of this name did live and have her own workshop in Holland at the time. The story was intense and Judith was blessed with common sense and a sense of diplomacy to know when it was enough.

Judith upto now lived with a master guildsman and his daughter both artists in their own right but Maria had problems of her own. She would have been treated accordingly today but no one knew of her mental suffering and torment she underwent. Judith had to balance her life between being a friend to Maria and her ambition about her art on the other. It did not always balance evenly.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an independent review, courtesy of Amberjack Publishing.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Vendetta by Heather Burnside

I have been reading books which have been so idyllic that they are too good to be true, or really horrendous thrillers.

This was certainly different. Adele has been thrust into the running of the nightclub owned by her brother who is currently in prison. Everyone in the story has served time, including Adele and it is dealt with very matter of factly and casually in the book. Whether that added to the general effect of lawlessness or the undercurrent feeling that everything was slightly dodgy is another thing.

Adele wants to run the club free of drug dealers but she is up against the implacable Glynn who wants a share of the action and is intent eventually on getting rid of her brother. Though Adele has her suspicions of Glynn she has no concrete proof to present to Peter who is skeptical of his sister's views on the subject. Since she was once involved with Glynn Peter thinks she is a bit sour that he has now found someone else.

The story goes on and you know that it is not going to end well for Peter despite he getting out of prison. Glynn pretends for a little while that he is a friend, but is constantly undercutting Peter and cheating him of his share - whether legally or illegally acquired is a moot point in the story.

The book was different because here we were dealing with characters who all had served time, who did not think twice of cheating, who were involved in the drug trade and who had no qualms how they earned their daily bread.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Happily Ever After at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

This is one of those stories that are ideal for a lazy afternoon or a weekend snooze read. Satisfying, romantic, idyllic setting, very nice people and all is right with the world.

We have a young couple not married with a baby who want now to get married. They are financially very stable - have a beautiful home, a manor in fact, and owners of a successful pub the said Dog & Duck. They are surrounded by the village with nice friends and the only worry is that something will happen to put off the much planned for wedding.

A broken ankle of the bride's father, the entire barn burning down are two of the mishaps on the way on top of the bride's mother leaving her husband and turning up on their doorstep. The bridegroom's sister is a stroppy one who cannot get on with the mother so there is tension in the house but the house is sufficiently big enough for all to have their own space, thank God.

A lovely read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Village Affair by Julie Houston

A Village Affair by Julie Houston

I'm having trouble with my computer and posting from my Ipad so excuse mistakes as they appear!
I leave for Melbourne middle of this month and really want to get up reviews all posted before I go.

This book was a good change for me. I have been reading so much of mystery murders and psychological thrillers, and good though they undoubtedly are, I did need a change of pace. This was reminiscent of a Joanna Trollope for me.

Three dear friends, two married and one very happy single. The ones who are married are set in their lifestyles and comfortable with it. They live in an idyllic village with very nice children as well. It all gives a very cozy feel. When one marriage falls apart in the most public of ways to the astonishment of Carrie  who had no clue that her darling husband was cheating on her with her best friend for well on two years, she is devastated. She thought she was in a rock solid marriage and to have this most publicly announced was tough on several counts. That she was starting a new job as Assistant Head of a School the very next day added to the complications.

Like in real life, turbulence comes in waves! we have an uprising in the village with the local lords of the manor (literally saying) coming up with a plan to be build 3000 houses on land in the village, upgrading the local school and generally turning this green belt into a jungle township! the villagers are divided on this issue and add to the general mayhem at this point in this story. On top of that cupid strikes again in the most unexpected way and Cassie finds herself in a quandary how to handle conflicting issues along with a romance which has disaster written all over it.

Despite several strands in the story, all good, it did not detract from the very story itself.

This was a lovely read with three very strong women as the main characters who handled everything that life threw at them with aplomb!

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

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Our Little Lies by Sue Watson

Our Little Lies

From the onset you knew this was going to be a bit twisted. I knew Marianne despite being a good mother had mental health issues. Not that Simon helped in any way by his innuendos and constantly putting her down in insidious ways. His idea that because he was a heart surgeon, and handsome to boot,  played on the vulnerable ways of his wife who imagined (real or imaginary) mainly real, his flirtations with anyone around.

He put everything squarely on his wife from maintaining an immaculate house, to controlling two rambunctious boys, from being a very kind step mother to Sophie to also imagining way beyond what was actually happening when it did happen. Simon was the worst kind of husband for Marianne, ignoring her history of mental health issues stemming from the time she was a little girl when she discovered her mother's suicide and he preyed on her insecurities so much that she began to think he was all powerful, all right and that she must reign in her instinctive dislike of so many women. She could not stand up to him or for what she believed in and that spiralled into the mess they found themselves in.

Marianne would have been hard to live with no doubt. Her constant need to be reassured that she was the only one would be galling to someone like Simon who wanted a model wife and mother. He could not bear to be seen with failures and in his wife he saw many.

The end however was unexpected and came in the story after the actual end of the marriage. Totaqlly out of the blue.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

In The Vines by Shannon Kirk

In the Vines

Mop as she is known wants closure on the sad tragic death of her mother and returns to the mansion of her now eccentric, cloistered aunt. The aunt who was very close to her and looked on her as the daughter she never had.\

The story is convoluted because the deeper Mop goes to solve the mystery of her mother's death, the more she unravels none of which are acceptable or palatable to her. Is digging deeper really what she wants to do.

The story starts off in one way and ends in another. Gothic, creepy and how power and position can hide secrets more effectively than anything else can.

Not an easy comfortable read, but a very intriguing one.

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