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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Two mystery books. One in the present and one set in the past.


Two short reviews.



America is in a depression and entertainment is the only way ordinary people can add a bit of light to their lives.

The pair of detectives in this book are supposed to be complementary to each other. Apart from their work there is a thread of deep friendship between the two apparent in a matter of fact way.  There is a good mystery here, with a lot of historical fiction detail along with the colorful background which goes with theatre.

Reminscent of an Agatha Christie this was a good mystery detective story.

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





Children here and see things that adults think pass them over. When Scooter and Mary overhear that their great great grandfather was hanged in Dry Gulch in California their interest is piqued. They want to get to the bottom of this mystery which is not discussed in the family and swept under the carpet.

On a holiday with their Uncle and Aunt they try to uncover this mystery and clear his name. Not easy seeing that this happened in 1873 and very few clues lie around.

More like a Western than a mystery, this was different reading from the usual.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Austin Macauley Publishers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

All about Evie by Cathy Lamb



Stunning setting of an island which I had to google to find out where it was this is a lovely story of an unusual girl.

Evie has always been unsettled. Despite ample love from her parents and sisters and extended family of lovable, quirky aunts she has one trait which no one in the family has. Her ability of premonitions which has put a huge burden on her shoulders. When should she act on them and when should she ignore them (she did ignore several mainly for the benefit of the survivors).

When inevitably the secret comes out, Evie and her family are at peace but getting there was the fun. Romance, pot growining 70 year olds, a bookshop (could we ask for a better setting) and a new police chief who has his eye on Evie and is not letting go.

This was a wonderful story of family, secrets (all families do have them), and finally peace when it is all in the open.  To cap it all a beautiful setting both the bookshop and the natural surroundings.

The one criticism -the cover.

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


Monday, December 2, 2019

The Caldwell Girls by Rowena Summers





The second book I am reading about this very interesting family. The war has continued and each daughter is finding their niche and how best they can serve their country. Bristol is being bombarded and being destroyed a bit at a time and how to protect oneself if of vital importance as everyone wants to survive and come out of this intact along with their loved ones.

It is not always possible and in the family with the loss of Baz just sixteen years old, the value of life is very precious now. Elsie decides to go to Yorkshire to live with her husband's family along with her baby Faith and live out the war there as it is comparatively safe there. Daisy continues with her nursing in the burns unit of the hospital, her dream of entertaining troops temporarily dashed. She is worried over the fate of her Canadian pilot boyfriend and his safety and then there is Immy the eldest who maintains a strong facade and their father Quentin who has now found a safe haven in Mary after the tragic death of his wife Frances.

The strands of the story encompass these lives, the daily tribulations which face everyone in war time irrespective of being rich or poor and the indomitable will to survive all odds, most apparent in everyone at the time.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Agora Books.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Reputation Dies by Alice Chetwynd Ley



I've said this before. When crime and too much mayhem gets in the way you need something like this. A hark back to simpler times. This book also involved murder and mystery but it seemed so much more acceptable if you can call murder acceptable!

Set in 1816 reminiscent of a Regency romance setting we had the Rutherfords and Justin in particular, a young man who was quite different to the other young men of the time and his niece Anthea cut form the same cloth both quite certain that justice must prevail and you must help where you can, never mind the expectations of this era.

When a murder happens and it is slowly revealed that a blackmailer is at play here, all the first round of suspects are innocent. What is Justin supposed to do to uncover the villain who has fleeced many of the aristocracy for fortunes. From just one young recently married lady, the victims go on and on and Justin realises that the blackmailer is a ruthless man who will not stop at anything to get what he wants.

This was a very nice setting, and though murder it was not gruesome nor a psychological thriller suspense kind of read. Maybe it was the era.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased read, courtesy of Sapere Books.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs



A very mixed bunch of people go on a trip to France. They are all from one town of Bolchester from mixed backgrounds and many of them do not actually like each other. When Alderman Dawson is found murdered the French police are called in along with Detective Littlejohn who is on holiday at the time.

When the French police discover the true identity of Dawson who worked with the French resistance for a time (and who was found to be a traitor) the whole attitude and significance of the murder changes and it is upto Littlejohn to try to find the actual murderer and not just think this is an act of revenge from a long hidden French resistance avenger.

Depicting French and English detective methods this is a rather slow process of trying to find a murderer when so many of the actual people on the trip have had ample reasons to murder the Alderman. On the surface he seemed liked, but beneath it all simmering tensions were there and to try to weed tensions out from an intent to murder is hard. When two more murders take place the investigation becomes urgent and Littlejohn has his work cut out to prevent the police from very conveniently holding on to the first available suspect so that the entire investigation can be done and dusted.

In true detective fashion, it is only through a long process of deduction and elimination that the final suspect is found.
A slightly old fashioned detective series.

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Paris Girl by Natalie Meg Evans



Tatiana is from the Russian aristocracy and she seldom forgets that. Now that she has escaped the Revolution and is forced to work for a living, albeit a model in a fashion house which is a comfortable job but she seems to attract and make trouble wherever she goes.

Engaged to a stuffy Frenchman Tatiana looks at Gerard her fiancee as a means to an end. To not have to work, to not have to do anything but just to live a life of comfort and idleness. (Not very likable upto now) The problem arises with Gerard's brother who has an obsessive adoration of Tatiana and in one horrible incident rapes her and she becomes pregnant. Seeing the end of her dreams Tatiana is willing to do anything to continue with the facade of her marriage to Gerard which she is determined to follow through. You should feel sympathy for Tatiana for the trauma as sadly her focus was only on a good marriage and nothing else but actually I began to dislike her almost from the beginning!

There are side characters in the story which add much more interest to the main, from Regan the American photographer who is aware of Tatiana's plight and is willing to help to Katya and to Una all who play pivotal roles in this story. The story of Katya and Harry trying very hard to get their sister Verna out of a Russian prison in a bribery and pay out was a story in itself.

Descriptive of the workings of a fashion house, this part of the story was good and interesting.
I loved the cover too.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Beyond The Storm by Diana Finley



The setting is a familiar one. Anna born in Vienna has escaped to the West but the trauma of being persecuted as a Jew has not left her even decades later. The story however, is about relationships and the problem that happens when secrets are allowed to be kept hidden. These are secrets that have to be told but Anna is not happy with the timing of airing the secrets of her past, not knowing how it will effect her life as it is now.

Anna is now 100 years old and in celebrating this day the story goes back in sections to her life, which was tumultuous and frightening in turns. It also deals with stories of people who lived in her past and how they have all had an influence on Anna. The biggest secret of all which has eaten into Anna and which now needs to be told.

This was another story set in the backdrop of WWII, the slow but sure denouncement and elimination of Jews and the few stories of the survival of some who lived to tell the tale. 

Very emotional, very effective and good reading.

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Poor Relation by Susanna Bavin



1908 England must have been a very tough time for females. Subservient to either husbands or fathers, governed by outlandish ideas of knowing your place in society and not trying to rise above it which was obviously a cardinal sin is not easy when you know you are capable of doing better and are more intelligent than most of the men around you.

Mary was a clerk at the local council office but she was never going to get promoted even though her boss considered her a treasure. The boys who were inane and silly kept on getting promoted till finally she took matters into her own hands and found a job. Convincing her father that it was a respectable job was one matter but also trying not to annoy the family that they were connected to and who were the big wigs in the town they lived was harder to manage.

Mary's life went from hard to harder to downright unfair and crushing. That she was able to come out of it with her head held high, and to maintain her happy spirit showed courage and considerable determination. With very little support from family, she finds support from an unlikely outsider who sees herself in the young woman and is determined to help her sort out her life.

It was a hard read for someone living in present times to even accept the total unfairness of what was dealt out to women at the time. A well written story with rounded characters and a very good story line set in Manchester.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Allison & Busby.

In the Shadow of Power by Viveca Sten



Set on an island in Sweden the residents are established old hands at island life. They are not happy with the newcomers who have built a monstrosity of a house on this island, ignoring local rules and regulations.  There is a feeling of unrest running through the community at the brashness and overpowering aggression of the newcomers but notwithstanding that a house warming party ensures that everyone attends to gawp and look at how the other side lives.

When on the opening day itself a fire breaks out in the guest house adjoining the main house and the charred body of a man is found, it is no longer simply a matter of grumbling neighbours. The police called in no that the owner Carsten has many enemies - he is rude and overbearing even to the police and not co operative at all. Unknown to the islanders Carsten is facing his own demons and is facing financial ruin.

The story develops slowly but it is very apparent that Carsten is heading for a breakdown mentally and with that he will take his family down as well. His wife Celia is not the most loved of people either but the two young children are in danger and the story builds up to a crisis very well. The characters are well rounded and believable and the island is described simply and well.

My first read of this Nordic author but I will be looking out for her in the future as well.

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





Saturday, November 23, 2019

Death Beside the Seaside by T E Kinsey



The series is a new one for me and one which is mix of Agatha Christie as well as one of the Classic Crime series.

Lady Hardcastle and her companion Flo have been partners in crime and have supported each other through thick and thin. They have endured hardships together, solved crimes, escaped from prisons but this time all they seek is a peaceful seaside holiday of their own choosing (which is what they thought) complete with donkey rides, Punch & Judy shows and all the attractions of a British seaside holiday.

They did not think they will end up in a hotel where guest by guest gets murdered (or abducted) one by one - at the end it is both of them and the two American ladies (also involved). Told in a matter of fact manner, the detection of the victims as well as the suspects continue in a very understated tone complete with high teas, entertainment and dinners as scheduled.

I loved the tongue in cheek humour, very reminiscent of a British comedy. Not a style of reading found often nowadays.

I found the cover fabulous too.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Publishing UK

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker



After a diet of mystery murders, psychological thrillers et al I did need this kind of Regency setting to keep me on an even keel.

Twenty one year old Nora is in a quandary. She is attracted to James, her father is pushing her towards Mr. Weston who is ultra rich, respectable and what he hopes for and there is Lord Worthington who has shown interest in the quiet, reserved Nora which is very unlike him. James has never actually spoken of his feelings, Mr. Weston is wooden and Lord Worthington makes it obvious he likes her. What is a girl to do.

Add this to a Season in London, her sister Susanna also making her debut despite the elder sister not being married and in her third season, a very distant and reserved set of parents who seem to want to keep their children at a distant length from them and you have the making of a very good story of not just love and romance, but how a family can distance itself from each other through sheer stubborness and at the same time get together with all the warmth imaginable when a crisis strikes.

The book was an interesting read of these times and morals (thank the Lord I live now!).

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Penny For Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber



Verity and Sydney Kent are a formidable pair and when they team up in solving a mystery, there are no holds barred and you do know that the end result will be exciting (apart from being solved of course).

1919 WWI is over but dangers abound and the Secret Service is still alive and kicking with political intrigue everywhere. Mystery and murder seem to follow Verity and when her friend Ada's husband is found shot dead in his own house, after a strange dinner party where his wife points a revolver at him and says she wants to kill him, there is little doubt who the murderer could be.

Between Inspector Thoreau and Verity it is decided early on that the facts are not what they seem and a plot is afoot to make use of Ada to screen the actual killer. Unfolding a plot which goes back decades and involves many of the aristocracy is not going to be good for politics and many a peer will use his powers to shut the investigation down.

Unfolding the details of the murder, going back into various scenarios seemingly unconnected to the main the story is descriptive and there is a lot of detail. Particularly of the historical kind. I loved it!

The settings are descriptive whether it is the Isle of Wight, France or London of 1919. The main characters are strong willed and so very clever. Add to that the history of the period and you have yourselves a wonderful story.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Pretty Folly by Charlie Garratt



1939 England is not pretty. War is coming. There is much to worry over and James Given just after one episode of finding Jew baiters is now faced with many episodes in his home town.  Tracking down the brothers Demma who are behind the attacks, fueling hatred amongst ordinary folk is one of his goals. When a young woman's body is found in a crypt, after several months of lying there, Given knows he has a task on his hands.

Finding out who the young lady is, was not an easy task because no one seems to want to come forward with any clues and what there is seems to be those of a misleading kind. By slow deduction, and the detective work of the slow, plodding kind Inspector Givens is able to see the bigger picture of the whys and wherefores of this murder.

Classic British crime. Good characterization. Very descriptive of the settings.

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


Friday, November 15, 2019

Coached to Death by Victoria Laurie



Catherine is a wealthy woman. She is also going through a nasty divorce where custody of her two sons is hanging in the balance. Returning to a quiet coastal community seems to be a good option. To get out of the limelight since the sale of her million dollar business and try to recoup her life and her sons who have voluntarily decided on boarding school rather than reside with either of their parents.

Her new career as a life coach for the adrift does not seem to be going well and when her neighbour with an axe to grind with Cat dies in disastrous circumstances, Cat becomes the first suspect. Extricating herself from the nightmare she finds herself in and settling matters right, apart from being amateur detective and finding the murderer with the help of good friends is Cat's aim. That she tramples too many toes in the process is part of the fun part of this book.

Cat is funny and over confident. She sparkles and gets into trouble unwittingly. The story is fast paced and engaging. Characters are colorful.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Poison Garden by A J Banner

The Poison Garden


Elise seems to be well settled. An idyllic marriage, a beautiful home, gorgeous settings and tranquil lifestyle. In an instant her world is turned upside down, when she discovers her husband having a relationship with a girl in her own home.

Faced with such a situation Elise finds that she does not seem to be able to think rationally.
Disturbed and distraught Elise reverts to sleep walking and seems to be unaware of what she is doing at the time. Forces around her want her to imagine that she is losing her mind and Elise falls into the trap very easily.

Who is her enemy and who is her friend. Did she imagine she saw her husband dead, is her ex husband who is constantly on the scene actually concerned for her or is it put on and what is it with a caring neighbour who we know is not quite right. Is Elise herself in a proper state or is she slightly off balance and mentally not stable?

I found the background of the story a bit disconcerting till its conclusion. I felt there were too many strands that had to be woven together. The descriptiveness of the setting of this island was very good.

This was a bit too much of a complicated story for me though I did read to the end.

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Uber Alles by Robert Arthur Neff








WWI and WWII have brought forward a plethora of stories, most of them excellent. The perspectives have been from various angles - even from the German one portraying the German people as not villains but just people trying to survive in Hitler Germany.

This one is set against the backdrop of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany and the story of courage, bravery, spirit of survival, nationalist tendencies and the patriotism that arose amongst the ordinary men and women of the time to protect what was theirs. In this case the fact that the characters were Jews or Romani was separate from their Polishness or their German ancestry. It was important for the aggressors so that it gave them a foothold to turn their race against them but for the victims their race was just another thing.

The story was written in a very precise manner, the characters were perfect and the political intrigue that marked both the Resistance as well as the Gestapo was detailed and intriguing.

If you are person who likes history this is a must read. The personal saga of a family is well detailed and sadly reflects many of the lives of that era in that setting.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Her Last Whisper (Detective Katie Scott No. 2) by Jennifer Chase



Katie has just been assigned a new assignment. Taking over cold cases is something she looks forward to and in a day she is assigned one which is unusual. Just six months old and already consigned to being a cold case because the "victim is not co operative".

Taking it from there trying to find out what and why Amanda is so terrified is not easy and when she fails and her body is found, Katie is more than determined to find out parallel links to other cases in the county and bring justice to the victims.

When another girl goes missing and then another Katie knows she has her work cut out for her because the suspect is someone who is in plain sight, and none of the detectives seem to be able to see it.

Twisty in the nicest possible way, not very complicated where your head turns in trying to connect the dots, this was a good mystery thriller read.

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bed, Breakfast & Beyond by Jo Ann S. Dawson




After a steady diet of mystery murders this was a good change of pace! There are many of us who feel that running a B&B is idyllic. This story gives us the inside information on how idyllic it is!

It was always JoAnn and to a lesser extent her husband Ted's ambition to own a place of their own. Running a horse(y) type of business offering services to trainers and owners is quite a different kettle of fish to running a B&B but when they found an acreage and a house which would offer them both there was little hesitation in taking it on.

A massive reconstruction and salvage operation on the house to make it habitable, running the horse business as well saw them at their full potential. The stories on a day to day basis are matter of fact, tongue in the cheek humour as well as a lot of love and affection for their livelihood and the business they run.

Anecdotes of guests (both good and strange!) are all part of the human interest of the story. Very down to earth and hilarious at the same time this was excellent reading.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Death at Sycamore House by Betty Rowlands



In Betty Rowlands fashion this is a good one. We have a very genteel elders care facility with a rather tense Mr and Mrs Seaton in charge. We have a block of flats equally high falutin with very nice tenants. When one of them is found murdered and dumped in the bins,  Sukey and the team backing her up are called in for the investigations.

Nothing is what it seems in murder and the links are slowly being put together but it is a puzzling sequence. The one suspect who seems to be the only one around has iron clad reasoning as to why he is not the murderer and though everyone assumes it is him, Sukey is always in doubt though he is an unlikeable character who has got under everyone's skin. Everyone would like him to be the culprit and then the case is closed.

When a second accidental death occurs, also someone linked to our victims and suspects and when a third victim seemingly random is also linked to the case, it is thrown wide open.

I never got it till the very end and then only because it was so very obvious!

Superb detection work very well written.

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

The Christmas Card Crime & Other Stories by Martin Edwards (Must read)




A mix of the very best of classic mystery murders, this was a wonderful set of stories set during the heart of winter. Freezing conditions, some harsh, some not so but all with winter as its backdrop and snow and winter played a great role in some of the murders.

From the Christmas Card one with two halves of a card held to solve a murder, to the jewellery heist which was discovered only through the shoe shine man who recognised a pair of shoes, from a party where a murder is expected and takes place right in front of a detective's very own eyes the stories from a collection of both well known and lesser known writers this was such a good collection to get one into the holiday mood despite the mayhem and scheming that went into murders!

Classic Crime stories never fail to make me very happy and this collection was no exception.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Bella Toscana by Nanette Littlestone

Bella Toscana


I am a sucker for covers and this one just drew me in. The other attraction was the setting and background. Chocolate, baking, and to top it all Tuscany. Could one ask for more. You then add in doses of romance a bit of time travel and you have a lovely story.

Toscana is the owner of a shop selling brownies. Not just brownies. These seem to be artisanal brownies. With an Italian heritage and going to Tuscany after decades she decides to try her hand at the export business of bringing brownies to Italy - a country that does not know what brownies are.
Her task is straightforward. Attend a Chocolate Festival, do her best to sell her product to three leading chocolatiers, visit her uncle and aunt and cousins and then return to Jackson her husband who at the last minute cannot join her on the trip.

What she didnt account for was meeting Flynn, a Professor of History in Rome, being instantly attracted to him and to top it all, having visions and dreams of a very disturbing nature - being part of ancient Rome involving Vestals, Roman soldiers, a very torrid love affair all set in ancient Rome.

The visions and going back in time are very matter of fact but the falling in love part was anything but!      Descriptive of both Tuscany, the chocolate and baking fields which formed the main part of the story and then returning to America to Toscana's life before Flynn was well told.

Whether it is rebirth or a soul's eternal travels this is a good way of handling some people's experience of a previous life.  Trying to make an explanation of this is not easy but this book handled it very well.


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




Friday, November 1, 2019

The Patient by Steena Holmes



The Patient


Danielle is a reserved woman. She is a therapist and seems on edge. She is worried that out of her three clients, one of them is a serial killer.

Cheshire a rural area has been plagued with murders. Parents are killed but the children in those homes are left untouched. Though we were told several times in the story that these parents were abusive ones, the police (according to what we read) never cottoned on to the fact that this was the common thread connecting the murders. We have detectives on the story and one of them is a good friend of Danielle's but this is never mentioned.

At the end of course it becomes obvious as to why so many salient facts that should have been noticed were not.  Like most reviewers I knew very early on that the plot revolved around Danielle herself but I could not figure out how.

My first read of this author. This is a genre I like though I did find this particular story a bit too convoluted.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy



Stories set in two time lines makes for very good reading. This more so, since one was set in WWII time frame and in Paris (and Brittany). Both good settings. Then we have the present day setting of Paris and again it was a fashion house.

Couture, espionage, love stories, faith and trust in huge measures and friendship of a deep enduring kind between women which lived on even after they were gone. The elements of the story woven together give you a story that is emotional, educative (I am still learning about the extent to which women went in the field of espionage in a very matter of fact way) and intriguing.

Mireille, Claire and Vivienne are the three seamstresses from 1940 Paris and Harriet is the modern one who is trying to find out details of her mother's and grandmother's life. Mainly to get an inkling and a feeling of belonging to someone because she feels isolated and lost from her present family of father, step mother and siblings. In unraveling the story of her grandmother she also gives us an unparalleled story of love and friendship.

Beautifully written,  charming settings, gruesome war time stories all combine to give us a wonderful read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Publishing UK.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The First Lady & the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham



American history and politics are two subjects I know very little of. So this was a good read for me. A very good one.

Dealing with a civil war on the one hand, Abraham Lincoln on the other and on top of it all the history of sisters divided by political conflict and personal beliefs. The trio came together beautifully to give you one wonderful story detailing history and a personal family saga that was wonderfully told.

The North and the South of America divided on this issue, and the war was very real with losses on every side. The Todd family had their fair share of losses and so did the Lincolns. Both from illness and the war the losses were heart breaking. The detailed history of the conflict, parallel with the story of Mary and Emily and to a lesser degree their other sisters is an excellent read.

There are details of the clan which were totally unknown to me - that Mary Lincoln was committed to a lunatic asylum by her only surviving son was hard to take. Emily on the other hand handled her sorrows in a more balanced manner despite facing more hardships than Mary did. The two sisters were a contrast to each other and this is what added interest to their story. It also points out to the fact that despite their positions, they were foremost women who were wives and mothers who sought to protect those they loved.

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

Saturday, October 26, 2019

One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker




1876 Wyoming. Life on the frontier was hard and for the Bemis and Webber families very isolated. Maybe that was why one man started an affair with the other man's wife. There was very little warmth anyway in Substance and Nettie Mae's marriage in the first place but when he was killed by Bemis, Nettie Mae felt that she was done wronged by and hated Cora Bemis with a vengeance.

What started out as bitter enmity, had to be put aside when circumstances forced the two families to live together for pure survival. With limited resources of both food and warmth and lack of labour to handle two farms the two eldest children, both teenagers decided to come together to just survive the hard winter ahead.

The story of the two women, trying hard to adjust, Cora being submissive to Nettie Mae as she was the offender. Netti Mae biting back her hatred because of the weakness of her son, knowing that he needs the Bemis family support to survive is a story of tolerance, hard work and just getting on with life, however hard it seems to be.

When a romance builds up between the two teenagers, the entire story is out of the mother's hands and the next step forward is taken in reconciliation and getting to grips with family.

A tough story, very well told.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Where she Went by Kelly Simmons




The nightmare that no parent wants to face. Your teenage, college going daughter goes missing, the Police do not seem to take it seriously and her colleagues are oblivious to the fact that she has been missing from her room and from her classes.

Most mothers hesitate as to whether they are over reacting, it finally dawns that you do not really know what is happening in your daughter's life, you have not been privy to the daily happenings unlike before and that she is now grown up and quite independent of you.

Maggie does not take inactivity lying down. She pursues it on her own despite it being bordering on the illegal. Her daughter is missing and that is all she can think about.

I agree with one reviewer who said this is women's fiction. It is typical of a mother's behaviour, single or married. Your children are your focus and you are there to protect them. Everything else is beside. The story of Maggie and the unravelling of Emma who wants to fit in, who wants to have friends, who wants to be in the in crowd is a typical growing up story.

A good read about two women trying to come to terms with growing up and becoming independent.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron



This was set not in two time lines but in three! my first read where it went into three separate stories.

Victorian England and Elizabeth an impoverished aristocrat is being touted by her mother as a suitable bride for anyone who is worthy of her. He has to be rich of course. Everything else is by the way. That is the original story of where the paintings begin - the paintings of Queen Victoria which so beguiled her consort  that he kept it only for his private viewing. That is the origin of this tale.

We then move on to the harrowing 1934 England. Almost the end of WW II and the arrival of American troops and the solace and uproar they equally brought to rural England. We have Amelia trying to hold it all together looking after orphaned children with very little funds and trying to hold on to her common sense and sanity when the Americans arrive.

We then have the present modern times. Keira is asked to authenticate a painting. During a modernisation of the castle, exciting news in the form of a new painting by Winterhalter has been discovered. Keira is needed in this connection.

All three stories are linked to Parnham Hall and the paintings - the unraveling of the story and the romance of each period was wonderful. They were not the run of the mill romances but very unusual ones - the first starting with revenge, the second with lost hopes and the third with desolation when you realise your idol has feet of clay. The stories ended well, wonderfully well.

Very descriptive of their settings in all three time frames, the characterization was splendid and the story was a page turner. I'll be looking out for this author in the future.

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


Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Flower Arranger by J J Ellis



It took me a while to get into the space of this story. Set in Japan, the workings of a young journalist and the police force were at play here. That part of the story telling was just the same as any other. There were places in the mind set of the murderer or pursuer of the young girls who were his victims that was the hard part to fathom.

Two young women, one Swedish one French go missing. The Swedish girl's body is found. No violation, but just a small wound on her neck which indicates the blood drained out of her body systematically. The why of it could only be explained by the attacker himself in alternate chapters and this was the part that was culturally different. He wanted someone to be replicated by the image he had of his mother who used to make up as a geisha in chalk white make up and he was always on the look out for girls who were very pale who could be made to look paler and paler.

When Blain starts her pursuit of the story successfully and publishes her findings, it upsets the Japanese detective put in charge of the case. Foreigners involved make it more delicate and the subject is one that has to be handled with kid gloves. Alternating between Inspector Tanaka and Blain and the attacker the story goes on quietly but forcefully towards an end.

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

The Wayward Wedding by Sarah Richmond



After a very long time I read a book that was light hearted and a happily ever after in the nicest possible way.

Dolly is to be married in a week's time. She did not think the visit to the rector is going to end with her being arrested and ending up in Holloway. Finding the rector bashed on his head ended up her being the arrested, despite that there is no reason whatsoever that she was the attacker - courtesy of covered up evidence on the part of the char woman of the church and the officiousness and stupidity of the detective in charge.

This was a mystery murder (not much mystery actually, just botched up) a nice touch of old fashioned romancing, and ideal for a Sunday afternoon.

All ends well. Dolly does get married and we have a lovely wedding!

Sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press. Inc.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Sassafras by Trish Heald



Champs Noland is in a retirement community and he hates it with a passion. His wife has passed away and he is totally at a loss how to cope with everyday stuff. He wishes she left him notes on how to manage their three children, what to say to people and just how to survive.

Champs has been the provider and nothing else. He has not been able to actually grieve the loss of his wife and just plods on day to day just trying to get through the day the only way he knows how. Returning to his holiday home on the river is the only way he knows how to live, but finding on arrival that the entire place has been gentrified makes him so angry that again he does not know what and how to cope.

When the children start arriving with the intention of disposing their mother's ashes and having some form of closure, apart from trying to get to grips with their father things take on a slightly ludicrous turn with Champs opposing them at every turn and not being able to see the bigger picture of how concerned they all are for him. Faced with a discovery that he only suspected before Champs has to now learn how to live, and love and forget all over again.

A story of family - amidst grieving for a much loved mother, and relationships which have to be first mended before they can move on.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Gallows Court by Martin Edwards

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The setting of 1930 in London was good for this story. There have been several violent deaths of eminent people. All by their own hand so far and no suspects involved. The last one does not uncover any shady dealings in the man's history. His character and behaviour seems exemplary so why should he blow his brains out and top it all by accepting guilt for a horrendous murder, especially when his body is found with the decapitated head of the victim by his side.

On the other side we have the enigmatic Rachel Savernake. Daughter of a judge who finally went mad and killed himself, the daughter shows characteristics which do not make her seem normal. She is a brilliant detective though and showed up Scotland Yard by solving the Chorus Girl murder. Being a woman she was not taken seriously and still isnt by certain people, always to their detriment.

We have Jacob a young, keen Fleet Street journalist who becomes the pawn in Rachel's machinations and her vendetta against society who she feels did badly by her. One by one her foes are eliminated, along with the people who helped her put away people.
Very convoluted, very atmospheric I couldn't solve the puzzle till the almost end!

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Death in the Village by Betty Rowlands



Adelaide Minchkin's body was found by the milkman dead on her bathroom floor. Apparently cardiac arrest but when her doctor insists that something is not quite right and that the coroner seemed to have overlooked or rather decided rather quickly that her death was due to natural causes, and causes a stir, the local Constabulary are called in.

When Sukey delves further into the happenings of this sleepy little village, lots of stuff surfaces. The previous owner herself, elderly in that case died suddenly and Adelaide who inherited the estate was an outsider, causing much ill will amongst the three siblings of Muriel. The owner before Muriel himself had died - sozzled, falling into a pool and drowning. The three deaths in succession are all quite self explanatory but now that a question has been asked, it is upto Sukey to investigate further.

Systematically going through the history and evidence around, and questioning all the villagers who are characters in themselves from the char lady to the local bar keeper was very well done and slowly a picture emerges of someone trying to hide something. When an old "cold" case seems to be somehow linked with the present deaths, Sukey knows she is on to something suspicious.

Told in a slightly old fashioned style, very reminiscent of this author's style the book is totally engrossing.

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Christmas at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble



A department store in Bath brilliantly preparing for Christmas but behind the scenes there is a lot of drama. A killer stalks the streets of Bath preying on women - and women who are respectable and doing good for the community.

Cornelia desperately trying to carve a niche for herself and her two sons in a contested divorce case. Stephen head of security at Penningtons, finds himself drawn into a murder investigation which he does not want to even know about. Stepping down from Scotland Yard he just wants to keep his head down and get on with his daily life. Joseph and Elizabeth cannot get past the tragic murder of Joseph's first wife and this is affecting their marriage and when murder strikes again they know they cannot sit back, despite Police inaction.

The drama of individual lives going on apace, set against the backdrop of the murders was balanced very well. It was several stories interspersed with each other and though set against the backdrop of the impending festival it was not a Christmassy book per se and could be read at anytime.

The characterization was spot on and the mystery murder detective theme was well thought of and detailed.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

the second chance supper club by Nicole Meier



Anything to do with good food interests me immensely! This book apart from the food aspect has another good combo Sisterly relationships.

Here Ginny and Julia's one is fraught with tension. One feels that she did it all when their parents died suddenly, uprooting herself and her family to deal with the aftermath of a sudden death. The other cut herself away from everyone, building up her career not thinking deeply of the consequences of her sister's life. When one of them is faced with a crisis, she runs away to the only place she knows she will surely not be turned away - her sister's home.

Coming home to Arizona was not the homecoming Julia expected. A home which is being run as a sort of illegal restaurant, catering for exclusive diners and a sister who seems to be living on the edge - facing financial disaster as well as a disaster of a relationship between her daughter and herself. Stepping into this minefield Julia feels out of place and she has to find a way to mend fences with both her sister Ginny and try to bridge the gap between her niece and herself.

The relationship part and how the story evolves from this was the best part of the book and the story is a commonplace one where miscommunicationn and no communication results in such a lot of misery and misplaced judgements.  I enjoyed the story emotional though it was.


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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Everybody's Somebody by Beryl Kingston



Rosie was not just somebody. For the late nineteenth century, she was certainly no pushover. She was not going to be happy or resigned to her lot, which seemed to be the idea of the working lot. They were born to it and there was no choice about bettering themselves. Rosie had ideas and she certainly was not going to let a bit of adversity or hard work get in the way of getting there.

I admired her spunk in the face of so much opposition. It was a time when women did what they were told to do by their parents or their husbands and most of them just buckled under. Rosie first as a maid - an understudy to a nanny made it her business to learn her trade and from there better herself.

After getting married, she ended up as a model for a famous artist, despite her husband's objections. Her first aim was just economic. It paid well and secondly it proved to be a learning experience in love for her. She balanced her career as a model, and on the other a loving mother and a wife admirably.

Set during the beginning of WWI and the ominous beginning of Hitler the story told how these wars affected directly and indirectly the rural population of Britain . It was insidious but a deep rooted effect on the entire population and affected entire generations.

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

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Deep Waters by Martin Edwards



This was a lovely theme of historical fiction mixed liberally with mysteries on anything water. Canals, lakes, seas, everything connected to the murder or the mystery was linked to a waterway and they were all picturesque, all descriptive and some of them remote.

All the stories are slightly old fashioned form of detective work, many of them were solved by laymen in collaboration with the police force and all conducted in a very gentlemanly like and orderly manner, despite the final brutality of the act itself!

Very easy to read, very pleasant to read.

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

Reading this mid September here in Sri Lanka and very apt, because we are having floods right across the country. I just got up this morning to see the river alongside my home flooding the opposite bank.


Friday, October 4, 2019

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright & Cass Grafton



I knew this was going to be a variation of the Jane Austen theme but this took me way out of any comfort zone I had! In a very good way.

The idea that what would have happened if the Jane Austen books we know were not written or not published is unimaginable.

September and in Bath it is  all about Austen. Finding someone in period costume is nothing unusual at the time and Rose begins to think that the lady she glimpses everywhere is another of those who has immersed herself fully into the Austen saga. When Morgan arrives from America and Rose's entire present world is turned upside down with the appearance of a necklace which has brought Jane Austen to present day times and then takes Rose back in time, things get complicated.

Rose desperately wants to get back to modern times and Jane Austen needs to go back to write and publish her books but how are they going to do this, when the only way back is a necklace secreted in a safe in a place hidden by double walls and in a building which is now an office!

Taking innumerable twists and turns, you do know this story is going to end well. Otherwise there would be no Jane Austen novels today!

A fun read, for lovers of Jane Austen a must.

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg



Maya and James journey starts with an idyllic, sumptuous fairy tale wedding of someone for whom James is the "fourth" photographer. It is a typical Bollywood style wedding and the accommodation and the luxury is overwhelming. What follows their journey in India is also typical. Ranging from horrible train journeys to middle of the road guest houses interspersed with the beauty and culture of India the story is almost a travel memoir.

The romance part of the story is that James and Maya are unsure of their own personal wants. At some point in their travels Maya knows that she wants a baby. She has just left her friend Nena back home with an adorable baby and this has set off Maya's yearning for a baby for herself. James does not seem to want the commitment, just yet.

In the same time frame of the story - a separate story of Nena and Tom is played out. Nena coping with motherhood, trying to be the "best" mother and maintaining a facade which will crack soon. Tom knowing something is not quite right, but not knowing how to put it right.

Then we have the missing French girl Manon - which has been covered by the International Press. The girl missing initially from Vietnam, then spotted in Thailand and now it is told at a very later stage that the girl has a mental illness and this adds to the problem of trying to locate her.

How the three widely different stories are linked, all with the background of exotic travel starting from the luxurious and going to the spartan, back packing lifestyle and finally coming to what James and Maya actually want from their lives.

Descriptive and captivating as any travel memoir, the story of James and Maya and the other characters all blend in well.

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

Monday, September 30, 2019

Last Pen Standing by Vivian Conroy



 

It is an idyllic story. You use your inheritance to set up a partnership in an idyllic village background to do what you love to do. This was the beginning of Delta's dream to set up a paper craft business in association with her best friend in an area which was a village but also a tourist destination.

They never expected to find on the their first day of their much anticipated workshop, a body of a well known figure murdered whilst a full scale party was going on, and that her friend's brother seems to be implicated upto his neck in the whole thing. Her friend Hazel trying her best to protect her brother and not divulging very much does not help the scenario and she ends up getting arrested too. It is now upto Delta to try to figure out who had to gain by the death and by a series of elimination work out who was responsible.

With a Chief Constable who is more obstructive than helpful, and not wanting assistance of any kind Delta battles it alone with the help of Jonas an ex cop himself unpopular with the local police.
Complicated plots and characters abound but with all the hallmarks of a good cozy mystery murder this is a good one.

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


Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt



On the brink of war, Inspector Given is trying to deal with the wave of Anti Antisemitism sweeping the United Kingdom. Two people who were caught in the latest killing are being hanged though the masterminds behind the attack are still free and very much pursuing constant attacks against Jewish businesses.

Surprisingly he is taken off the case and given another one - a triple murder cum suicide (apparently) for the flimsiest of reasons. Suspicious about the reasoning behind the murders and thinking it is an inside job Inspector Given is swept into a case with much wider repercussions. It is not a family saga, with family secrets to hide but goes back decades and uncovers a very long trail of coercion, deceit, cover up and many secrets.

Told in a slightly old fashioned style, not detracting from the story or the detection the story is well told. Characterization was spot on and very good reading.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes




My knowledge of American history is scant. I think this was a good one for me. Set in 1861 and present day times, we deal with women (and to a lesser degree men) involved in the military not in a supporting role of nurses and carers but both front line soldiers.

We have Emily who after the death of her father and brother, joins hands with her surviving brother Ben to join the Army to fight not as a woman, but disguised as a man. She goes through several skirmishes, and when she is found out she is demoralised to see that her achievements as a soldier are not taken into account - only the fact that she disguised herself as a man. The story of "Jesse" and her brother Ben in the heart of the Civil War fights and how the only survivor was Jesse is remarkable. Because she maintained a diary which was found by Sarah who was one of her descendants and this in turn came into the hands of Larkin, our present day soldier.

Larkin has her own devils to contend with. A survivor from Afghanistan, she carries the overwhelming guilt that she was directly responsible for the death of Sarah, her best friend and Anahita a girl she befriended in Afghanistan. Suffering from PTSD and unwilling to seek counselling or therapy Larkin is battling it alone, with just the help of her grandmother and her cousins.
Till Larkin comes to peace in her own mind with Sarah's death, she knows she will have no solace at all in her life.

What must be a common problem amongst many soldiers, unable to bear the overwhelming guilt of death - whether to friend or foe is dealt with, with  empathy in this story. The personal lives of both Larkin and Emily and how they cope with their worlds is handled delicately. The history of both periods are also detailed well and gives one an inside view of life on the ground in both situations.

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sweep Out the Ashes by Mary Clearman Blew



Diana took up an appointment at a University in Versailles to find out the truth about her father. Set in Northern Montana the landscape is icy and bleak at times and fellow colleagues in the university are antagonistic, misogynists mainly, racist and basically unpleasant.

Diana has to learn how to balance her teaching career, give of her best to her students, handle her superiors who seem determined to either get her into bed and failing that get her sacked and also find her father. Finding her father was very fast track. The man was in plain sight, he knew her the moment he saw her and things seemed good. Handling a relationship with someone who was of mixed race, and in a town where strong feelings about race existed was a harder task.

Like now in America, the 1970s seem not very different where strong feelings survive re mixing between two races.

Informative read.

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Art of Dying by Douglas Lindsay



This book with its Scottish setting was very atmospheric. Starting out with a murder after an altercation at a football stadium, it appeared to be one of those type of random murders. We then get involved in big corporations, the Russians, forgery of paintings, retirement homes with people getting murdered there as well.

All seemingly random, all seemingly unconnected but our detective knows that there are dots that just have to be connected. It comes about through the most unlikely candidate - a woman who is considered psychotic, never having spoken for years who sits in front of  one of the most horrific paintings imaginable, and just stares at it all day.

How the detective connects the dots and finds out the solution to the puzzle is amazing and this is what makes this thriller so good.

With touches of spirits in the form of ghosts from past experiences the Detective combines them all into a very good read.

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn




1920's New York was not a good place for women. Independence was scorned on, working for a living was considered not quite right, a woman's inheritance passed from her father to her guardian (brothers who were tyrants) and then to husbands who could squander the whole thing away and no one questioned the right.

When Julia is thrust into the Rankin's life through the sudden death of Naomi, she little knew that by befriending Glynnis whose character and personality are totally different to Julia, that she would raise the antagonism of the entire Rankin clan who close ranks against Glynnis and in turn Julia for raking over this sudden death. Within a couple of days, with no post mortem and a death certificate issued by an ancient family doctor, Naomi is cremated.

Unraveling the sordid story of Naomi's death was sad. A life lived in penury, all because her brother did not let go of the purse strings, his need to dominate and get his sisters to acquiesce to his strict standards of how society viewed them and the need to maintain the showmanship amongst high society in New York was uppermost in all their minds. If getting rid of someone who proved to be over and over again an embarrassment, so be it. Even murder could be excused because what was important was the family name.

This was not an easy story to read. You felt the hopelessness and the huge odds against which Julia was fighting for. Not just for Naomi but for herself personally in her war with her guardian brother who refused to acknowledge that she was part of her father's will. For women of today, this is not an easy read at all. This was a good story and however hard it was to accept women's role in society at the time it depicted it very well.

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


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell





If ever a book could persuade you to leave your present hectic life, and escape to a countryside town where you could bury yourself in the local life, have an income in the form of a bookshop and be so very comfortable, this is it.

Shaun has a bookshop catering for a very wide, eclectic audience. The requests are wide ranging and very often accompanied by bizarre statements. Shaun is also easily put upon and is easy going from offering coffee free to the free wifi to the facilities. He seems to have utmost patience with adults and children who rummage, involve him in inane conversation and finally end up buying nothing.

In the form of a daily diary, this book was a delight to read. I carried my kindle with me to appointments in order that I could sneak in a few pages as this was one of those unputdownable books.

Loved it from the word go. I understand it is to be made into a TV series. Wonderful.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Last Post by Renee Carlino




Laya has been widowed very young and is finding it hard to cope with widowhood. She felt that her husband courted death with his dare devil antics and escapades and that he was constantly seeking a new thrill (sponsored of course). Having watched him actually die was not going to make it easier on her and she resorts to Facebook posts giving the impression that he is going to come back (some day). Much to the distress of his family.

Trying to get back to what is considered a "normal" life for Laya was not easy. A promising surgeon she gave up on life and seemed to be just existing until she met up with Micah a architect in her father's firm and one who was attracted to her from the beginning but who did not know how he could get through to her - let alone falling in love, to just acknowledge his presence.

The story of survival, of letting go, of coming to grips with the fact that the world just goes on despite all the heartache and despair you may have is not an easy story.. It made for an interesting read though. Not emotional to the point that you are overcome with sadness and throw the book away. On the contrary it made for a page turner.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Murder in the Mill Race by E.C.R. Lorac



I got my computer working again and it makes writing reviews so much easier!
I'm slow on the Ipad with reviews.

The British Classic Crime series is a style apart from the myriad excellent mystery/murder/thrillers which abound. There is a sort of slowness and a quiet deduction, which has its own attraction.

Dr Raymond Ferens is taking over a practice by a doctor who lived in the village for decades. It will be a very long time, however good Ferens is , to be totally accepted by the village as one of their own. There are several fixtures of village life from the gossipy post mistress, to the lady of the manor who seems to rule everyone with her ways, and then there is the spinster caretaker of the local orphanage who is strict, gives no quarter, but not a single word will be spoken against her.

When she is found dead, drowned in a nearby stream the consensus is determinedly that she slipped and fell despite the local Constable having his suspicions of it being a murder. He is not merely shut up, but to the extent that he calls on higher powers that be because he realises very early on that the village has decided to gang up against him and not give him any clues as to what really went on.

The story takes on from there and slowly the plot unravels. Very little will surprise me when dealing with villagers in England or otherwise. Human beings are all complicated and this story illustrates this in full measure.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan





I've been to Paris just once. I want to go again. What Colgan does is that she makes me want to now. Just up and go because there seems to be a myriad things I've not experienced.

Anna lives a humdrum life. In her little world,  to her family and friends she has it all. Tight knit family, few friends, nights out at the local, blokes interested in her. Till a freak accident makes her ill, despondent and depressed and her former French teacherdecides to step in and send her for a kind of apprenticeship to a chocolatier in Paris. There she discovers another world of taste and luxury, of fine distinction between mediocre mass produced chocolates and chocolates produced with so much passion. She also discovers discreet good taste, a palate for the finer things and love as well.

With its ups and downs Anna comes to terms with life and love, reconciling two people who've left it very late to find the love they once had (this part was sad. Of what might have been if things were different). But Anna finds out she is stronger than what she thought she was to face a future alone, if the path of love does not run smoothly for her.

Descriptive of Paris, and very matter of fact about relationships this was an excellent read.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor




We have it all in this story. Time travel, a good deal of history, a love affair, the tragic workings of a mental hospital in the present century. This book was good. The story fascinating. Almost too good to be true. So though you know its a bit of fantasy, deep down you'd like it to be true.

1916 Captain Robert Lovett is convalescing at Coldbrook Hall. He cannot see though doctors have assured him that there is no physical impediment to him getting his sight back.
In 2017 Louisa Casson through a number of sheer coincidences, finds herself in a mental health institution called Coldbrook Hall. The premises is their connection and one day Louisa disappears and turns up as Rose Ashby a Volunteer Nurse. Her stay as Rose is not permanent as she keeps going back and forth to 2017, until she realises she wants to be with Robert despite him returning to the Front, and so goes back to Amiens to the battlefront herself.

The two time frames are both intense - not everyday life. One is an institution run like a prison with Victorian attitudes to mental health and brutality and cruelty to match. Then we have both England and Europe in the grip of WWI , Robert a POW the harshness of life at the front, and the sheer numbers one is faced with in the hospitals. In the midst of this the love story is the only hopeful, bright spark amongst the misery.

Characters spot on, descriptiveness very good, fascinating story.

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