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Monday, August 19, 2019

Lucy's Last Straw by Debbie Viggiano

Lucy's Last Straw: A feel good, laugh out loud romantic comedy


After a number of very suspenseful reads this was a lighter read but the moral of the story was not light at all. It was couched in a very light hearted style in both language and setting but it undermined the very important part that marriage plays in society.

Lucy and Leo are married for 25 years. Three children who do not live at home and Lucy is now getting exasperated with Leo. His obsession with his pension, and then being made redundant overshadow their life and now he is insistent on moving to a derelict cottage giving up their big comfortable home because he feels that for just the two of them, the enormous house is too much.

When Leo unexpectedly lands a job which involves travel, a nymphomaniac of a neighbour who decides that Leo is her next target and when Lucy meets Will the builder who ignites all her senses in the most irrational way , you do know fireworks are in the offing. Whether Lucy and Leo will let rationale and common sense prevail or go with the flow is the story.

Add to this the travails of three children who feel they have a right to tell their adult parents what to do, how to do and when to do stuff, you end up with a thoroughly modern marriage which has to be navigated carefully.

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


Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Violin Maker's Daughter by Sharon Maas



Any story which has a WWII background whether it is from any country involved in the war is poignant and very emotional. This one is no different.

Even when the Nazis walk into Colmar Josef a secular Jew believes he will be safe. He produces beautiful violins for a living and thinks that it is all a question of too much hype. When the actual situation dawns on him it is very late, and he has to think of a way to get his children away. He succeeds with his eldest sent at the age of 17 from an extremely protected background to one where subterfuge and lies becomes a way of life.

Sarah's painful and difficult journey across France from being a Jew to being a German from Alsace with a change of name and personality to match her goal is Poitiers.  It is not smooth the journey and meeting Ralf who saves her from rape, and then becomes a deserter from the German army is not going to help matters at all. Germans are the enemy and having Ralf as a protector is not helping at all.

Love and loyalty, a lot of sacrifice and plenty of betrayal make this a wonderful story for lovers of historical fiction.

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


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale



Ella is a lifestyle journalist (a new definition for me). After years of investigative journalism and many high celebrity scoops, she has settled into a married life with another high powered entrepreneur who was also a subject of her interviews.

Now Ella is seeking an interview with a subject whom she has interviewed before, also very high profile but who cancelled the entire interview. What is puzzling is that for one Ella cannot remember any detail of this interview, the man or the details and secondly anything related to this subject is not found on her data bases. The first is understandable. Ella is traumatised after an accident in which she lost her baby but the second is the strange part. Ella is a professional through and through and details of her past work is all recorded except this one.

Damien and Ella and Nathan form a triangle which is not quite what it seemed to be. The story is suspenseful, the ending even more so.

I read this story quite skeptical and looking at it from afar. It will appeal to many though.

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



Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Testament by Alis Hawkins



The two time frame story is becoming very popular. I've seen it so many times and every time it works like a charm.

Here too we go to medieval England to Salster to 1385 and to a master mason Simon and more unusually his wife a master craftsman too. The building of any place is in this time a massive achievement. A lifetime honor for a craftsmen and from the details found in this story, obviously a massive undertaking. Stones were chiselled and part of a building as a labour of love, of much pride for not just the master but also for his workmen. The story of this couple and their unusual child and the complications of local politics and pride is one story.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have Dalmia taking over as Marketing Manager of the college Kinetton and Dacre. The college is bankrupt and is left vulnerable to take over bids where the main concern is turning over a fast buck. Whilst undergoing renovations, a grotesque series of paintings is uncovered. Will this be the saving of the college? but first the story has to be uncovered as to what it signifies.

Two stories of history in two separate time frames, two personal stories one of Simon and his wife and son and then we have Dalmia and her partner trying to find a balance between career and love.

I loved the detail in both time frames. The procedure of building, of architecture in the 14th century and the machinations and marketing of a college which is behind the facade of a well run institution in the 21st century.

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

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia



Translated into English the book is a mix of history, a family saga with a touch of mysticism, something faintly not quite of this world which is not understood by all and misunderstood by many.

Mexico is on the verge of revolution, bandits and the rule of force apply but in this small town
Francisco is able to maintain his position as head of the estates he owns by a mix of firm discipline and kindliness to all.  In the midst of all this is born a mute, a child who is led and protected by bees and seems to have his own fore knowledge of events about to happen. Francisco is blessed with a son years after the birth of his two daughters who are now married. This boy is the link between the mute Simonopio and the little boy whom he takes under his wing as a guide and protector.

The story evolves with the background history of Mexico turbulent at most times but the story seems to be set in an oasis of peace till of course strife hits out in the most heinous way.

Unlike others I found the story very slow moving at the beginning, but by midway it picked up and I did want to know how it all ended.

A very unusual read combining many genres all fascinating.

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


Friday, August 9, 2019

Death Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy




My first read from this author and I've been looking forward to this. Love the cover too.

Merula and Lord Raven are both zoologists but they also share a history of detecting. Having saved one person from the gallows they now search for mythical creatures in the wilds of Dartmoor in the home of the reclusive Oaks. What they encounter is not exactly what they were looking for. A young woman working in the house has been found murdered with the marks of the kraken around her neck and the villagers are out for blood.

How Raven and Merula jointly try to uncover who and what and why of this senseless murder is the story. Village life in all its detail - superstitious, incredulous to the outsider and how to bring justice about is painstakingly done in this story.

I liked the Victorian setting but I also liked Merula's modernity and the touch of romance over hanging the whole story though nothing actually materialised in this one. Lets hope it happens in the next!

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Dead Girl in 2A by Carter Wilson



There are times we feel we know someone but just cannot figure out from where. This is what happened to Jake on a usual flight he took. He knew her from somewhere but all the usual connections of college or work place or mutual friends did not turn up a clue. The same connection went with Clara herself. It remains a mystery.

On the startling revelation that Clara is flying out to a destination to kill herself, and then coupled with the recent realisation that things are not good with him too, too many coincidences seem to come up leading to a most remarkable beginning of their lives which were inextricably linked and which accounted for the almost immediate recognition of a like minded spirit.

Part fantasy, this was a likeable story.  Lots of twists and turns as said by many reviewers.

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

Monday, August 5, 2019

Tudor Dawn by David Field






Tudor Dawn: Henry Tudor is ready to take the crown... (The Tudor Saga Series Book 1)


Described as historical fiction, this is more or less a historical account of a particularly turbulent period in British history.

The war of the roses was full on - bringing war and strife as a permanent part of the English landscape and the war between factions supporting Henry VI and Edward IV were vast and widespread. The young Henry Tudor grew up in exile, not a very warrior like king, to the dismay of his seniors. It was only with his sudden accession through the efforts of his mother and uncle when he actually got to the throne that his more arrogant king like features began to emerge.

The story of the emergence and strength of the Tudors very well told in this concise history lesson. Of particular interest to fans of English history.

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


Bethlehem by Karen Kelly



Historical fiction coupled with a family story and the build up of relationships between adults, especially when it is a joint family. Rather unusual I thought for America.

We have Joanna from a middle class background with her two children moving to Bethlehem with her husband to a home where her in laws live. She has to find a fine balance of keeping her values and especially her parenting ideas intact, in the face of somewhat more lenient attitudes especially since money does not seem to be a problem.

Joanna is fearful that she is no longer a wife or a mother in her own right. That she is losing her identity and her spirit and she wanders away from the marriage dispirited. That is her story of the 1960s. Then we have the story of Susannah her mother in law, reserved and reticent, not really allowing anyone to get too close. There are too many secrets in the family and she is used to burying them deep underground hoping that the scandal will never be revived.

The two time lines were handled well. The two women were different in character, but both were strong women who handled issues head on. It was the women who were the main characters in the story.

The story was very well told and you do want to know how it is going to end.

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

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms










   Amy is a single mother of two teenage children. Overworked, stressed, worried how to manage expenses with an aging house and two children who need stuff, a lifesaver in the form of a seemingly dejected husband turns up. Missing for three years, abandoning Amy to a sudden change in lifestyle she is now firmly in grip of her life but all the time feels that something is missing.

When an opportunity comes to attend a work related event which she likes in New York, she takes it albeit reluctantly wondering how the two children are going to cope without her. To her chagrin they manage themselves very well, seemingly getting on with their absentee father as if he was never absent. Getting in touch with her friend Talia opened a new world for her - a momspringa - a reawakening of herself and of her interests and of things she wants to do for herself. That she found plenty of romance was an interesting element to the story but the main theme of Amy's revival of spirit was the best part of the book.

Refreshingly humourous, light hearted fun this was a very good read.

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

Friday, August 2, 2019

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whaler



Annie Tafts is going to have the wedding of the year in the small town where she was born and brought up. She is looked upon with much fondness amongst the inhabitants of this town, mainly because of her mother who was found brutally murdered and whose killer was put away mainly by the evidence given by Annie a three year old at the time.

Now four days before the wedding Annie has gone missing. It is also no small coincidence that after 23 years the man convicted of killing her mother is released from prison. Could the two events be connected but it seems too pat, too contrived to be that. The list of suspects grow and the tension in her Aunt's house mounts as there seem to be so many secrets hidden for decades that are all going to burst upon the unsuspecting.

How well people know the persons they live with is reiterated in this story. It is amazing that very often we hardly know the people whom we are most intimate with, people whom we have spent our entire life with. In this case is the discovery of Annie going to be too late.

An interesting story of thrills and secrets.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Have you seenn Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde




This was a joyous book to read. Like it said in the book, most older folk seemed to have given up on young people. Their indifference, their attitude to very old, slow folk is degrading and some of them look through them as if they didnt exist. Then you come across someone like Raymond and your entire view of life changes. You think there is hope for the human race.

Millie is old and blind and dependent on a young man called Luis Velez for assistance - to the bank, to the grocery. When he does not turn up for three weeks, she is on the point of starvation but she does not want to worry social services or anyone for that matter. She steps out of her apartment and for her good fortune and also for our young man, they meet and the rest is the story.

The search for Luis Velez goes on privately by Raymond who is horrible conflict at home. He is the odd one out in a family of white, he is black and is made to feel alone by all, including his mother who shows no empathy and particularly no sensitivity to her son who is struggling to just fit in. At his father's house, his father's second wife shows no hesitation in showing her dislike that he is part of her husband's responsibilities even though it is only twice a month. She resents this and shows it.

That Raymond turns out the way he did, is a marvel. He could have been a grouch, he could have been frustrated, angry and annoyed at the deal the world dealt him but he just handled it and went on with it.

The story was descriptive, detailed and though there were no entirely happy endings it ended on a note of hope and love.

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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Well Read Woman by Kate Stewart (a biography of Ruth Rappaport)



A fascinating biography of a woman with a colorful history and one with ambition.

Ruth Rappaport was a child in Nazi Germany. With Romanian origin parents and a passport which helped  since it was not a German one, she was a Jew and faced great danger in Nazi Germany. She was fearless and even as a young child was daring and bold. Faced with an uncertain future, she like thousands of others was shipped to Seattle to join a family and to try to live a life without the luxury of parents or family or money.


How Ruth survived the treacherous journeys through Switzerland then to America to Vietnam and back to America all sustained by her love of libraries and books and how she used this to her advantage to seek a life of some sorts despite being without roots, without a home, without a family is an emotional read. For anyone to be not really welcomed, to be just tolerated by family  more as an obligation or duty to extended family is a hardship that cannot be endured for long. Ruth had to bear this for a long time because with no money, no education she was dependant on others.

How she carved a life for herself out of her libraries, the work she did in Vietnam setting up a fine system for all the forces stationed there was immense. Even on her return her work with libraries continued and even in retirement she was an active force within the community itself. It makes one life seem very dull and mediocre in comparison!

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


The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke



Lila Bennett is one focussed individual. Focussed on what is best for herself mainly. To this end some hard decisions have been made in the past. Some deliberately so, with the idea of promoting herself and some just because she wants to win and come out ahead of everyone else. Tough upbringing has to an extent made her the way she is.

We have two aspects here - (I did find it confusing at the beginning). Lila kidnapped, kept in an underground bunker, not ill treated but not treated well at all, disoriented, without any clue as to who and why she has been taken. When her captors start focussing on her past decisions and getting her to accept and apologise to those she has wronged, Lila though knowing her own career is going down the drain, has a strange sense of relief.

In the other alternate,  she eludes her captors but someone is unravelling her life piece at a time deliberately. In this scenario, she knows exactly who and why but is left helpless. When Lila in this case decides to do the "correct" thing, she literally sets the cat amongst the pigeons unleashing a series of good decisions, and upturning all what went before.

Both scenarios were equally fascinating. Both were equally ruthless. In both Lila became from being the strong victor to the submissive person who knew she has to set right her original faults.

Very intriguing. Very well written. A page turner and one that keeps you on edge till the end.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer

Duplicate Death (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #7)

A card party hosted by a woman whose credentials do not seem very sound. But she is able to attract to the table very high flying people including the aristocracy. She has also been able to get one of the most capable hostesses to introduce her daughter to high society. There seems to be a history behind the woman but no one knows anything about it.

When two deaths in identical manner take place at the house within a short period of time, the hunt is one to find a very determined and bold killer. When the Secretary to the hostess Miss Birtley is suspect Timothy who is madly in love with Miss. Birtley will leave no stone unturned to prove her innocence. With two capable detectives also following all leads, the story is a bit complicated with side stories of drug running, blackmail all in high society adding a piquancy to the story.

Nor like Miss. Heyer's usual Regency Romances which I love, this was also very good in a different style.

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The House of Hardie by Anne Melville














Young love, idealistic dreams, dreams far removed from what your parents envisage for you and the determination to achieve them form part of the story.

Two families two very different social situations. One in trading, one very upper class. Very unlikely that either family will tolerate a marriage within the two. Lucy is headstrong and Gordon taken quite unawares. Midge had to learn the hard way that a man may not feel the way he behaves and may be very different to what she is expecting.

Midge is ahead of her time. She is clever and wants to be educated. Unfortunately not encouraged by the world in general though her family is supportive. Her idea of teaching and then becoming a Head of a college seems such a feasible idea now. In Victorian England it was far fetched. Midge was determined however and after her disillusionment with Archie she channelled all her energies into her education and career.

In Midge's brother's case despite being expected to take over his father's business, his love of nature drew him to explore the world and he somehow was determined to trek in China seeking for elusive plants and herbs. He did this not expecting the determined Lucy to escape the confines of her home and join him on board the steamer to the Far East. Their adventures are a travel memoir of the difficulties of travel in the time and make for a fascinating read.

The stories of the two separate families and how their lives entwined and how fate played a role is very well depicted.

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

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fire of The Sun by Simon Laffy



This was a complicated story crossing several time lines and several countries. A nurse talking to a cancer patient who she discovers is a famous scientist partially responsible for the Apollo missions. He tells her of the Nazi search for proof that they were a pure race and descendant from the Gods . In their quest for this, they did come across something which proved to be beyond the understanding and imagination of the scientists of the 1940s.

British Intelligence is also keen on knowing what this subject was but it seems as if all doors are closed to them and they always arrive a tad late to discover what actually happened. The story is fantastic, but very plausible and in this lies its attraction.

Can this knowledge be used constructively and why is it that so many people die in the pursuit of finding out the truth.

This was not an easy read, I took a number of days to read the book but when I finished it eventually, I did think it was an unusual subject.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of ACM Letro Ltd.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tell No One by Barbara Taylor Sissel



Caroline's father disappeared from her life over thirty years ago. She had no hankering to look for him because what she knew and was told about him was disappointing. But his sister Lanie, the aunt who brought her up is at death's door and her wish is that she see her brother once more before she dies and Caroline is trying very hard to track down the illusive Hoff and bring him to Lanie's bedside.

Caroline does not realise that her quest for her father is going to make many people uneasy. From the people he worked with to those whom he had relationships/children with all are determined to block Caroline from her search. Caroline is determined however and despite a dangerous episode where someone runs her off the road, causing her to crash she still pursues the trail.

Disappointing though it is with the end result, the story of her search was a good one. It unearthed clues not only to her father's past but also to the histories of those who were linked to her father - and they were for the most very unsavoury. That is why people were not keen to allow her to unearth information about Hoff.

There were quite a few stories here apart from Hoff and Caroline and it detracted a bit from the main story.

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

I Know You're There by Sarah Simpson



The four inmates of the four flats seem like a very nice bunch of people. Differing ages, differing personalities but they all get on well. There are no hidden tensions or agendas. It seems so.

Natalie  permanently afraid of her bullying and father who is now in prison, sent there by her complaint. Morwenna motherly but with a past addiction and a fear that she killed her husband whom she was devoted to, Nigel serious and just right and then there is Daniel the young boy who is fearful and has everyone looking out for him. We have Mark their landlord who is also now in a relationship with Natalie.

Under the blithe surface all of them have secrets and when a series of anonymous postcards keep appearing in their flats and when Natalie always fears that there has been someone in her flat in her absence though she cannot pinpoint exactly why and how the house of cards begins to tumble. It is an exercise in living on the edge, fearful of shadows, fearful of the dark and now fearful and suspicious of your neighbour.

Fairly tense, living on the edge thriller. Nice characterization. Nice setting.

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs



Very detailed and with accurate historical information of the life and work of Harriet Tubman who worked tirelessly to free slaves.

In this story, we get to know much more about Harriet than is generally known. Due to the generally secret nature of the operation, the fact that she was a slave and because she was female, her role has generally not been highlighted but rather downplayed which is totally unfair because she played the greatest role in freeing 750 slaves which is huge for the time.

Meticulous detail to history was part of the story and will endear history fans for this fact alone.

My knowledge of American history is scant, almost non existent so this was very good reading for me.

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane by Dee MacDonald



Tess and Orla are good friends, blunt to each other but honest - there is a no holds barred conversations going on between the two all the time. I thought it was a bit too blunt but it worked very well for them both.

Now in their sixties, both are looking for love in almost any place possible. Their pursuit of happiness was a bit forced but both were determined to get it by any means. Companionship, a physical relationship were both goals for both of them and the story of how they achieved it is this story.

I was not very enamoured by the whole process but then I think I am prejudiced! The story was light, funny in parts, a farcical in parts.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Only Charlotte by Rosemary Poole Carter



Lenore James is a good natured woman. She has outlived three husbands, is financially independent, fair and non judgemental and worried over her brother Gilbert. He has tragically lost his wife and child and now seems enamoured by the young woman Charlotte Eden. Herself married with two children and whose husband is very much part of New Orleans society.

The story revolves around Charlotte and her supposed death under mysterious circumstances whilst at a weekend with mutual friends (of her husband). Gilbert as the doctor was brought in to take the body away and prepare it for burial. That the husband did not accompany the doctor gave us the first inclination that things were not quite what they seemed and when Charlotte is found to be alive and has to be given some kind of place to recover apart from her husband and children, this is where the actual story unravels.

New Orleans society was lax and amongst this circle of society rather immoral. The Judge who overlooked all legal matters of the area was corrupt so that there was no way that Gilbert could bring about a case against Charlotte's husband. It was a very cliquey society a sort of old boys network which worked well for them against all outsiders.

The story was slow paced but descriptive of the society in which Lenore and Gilbert lived and was interesting for its depiction of New Orleans society from their viewpoint.

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Brighton Guest House Girls by Lesley Eames



It must have been so difficult to be intelligent and street smart for women in the early part of the century.  They were expected to conform, not to argue, to be supported by a plethora of parents, brothers, husbands and just expected to look helpless and pretty.

For someone like Thea who saw through her stepfather's wiles and was disenchanted with his drunken ways life was hard. Not only did he run through all the money that was available, he sold everything her mother possessed to fuel his drinking habit. When he died, his son turned up on Thea's doorstep with a will which showed that her mother had written everything to her husband, and her husband had written everything to his son. His son wanted Thea out of the house asap.

Thea knew that either the will was forged or that signatures were forged or witnesses were coerced. She did not know where to start though.

In a parallel zone we have Anna, single and pregnant  her partner lost at sea off the coast of Brazil and now she has been thrown out of her home. We have Daisy who wants to see the outside world a bit before returning to the loving embrace of her father. How these three women meet, give each other the support each one needs and form a bond over riding class particularly and becoming good friends is this story.

The story was a charming one of the support people can be for each other, and how greed for material wealth over rides morals or ethics.
A simple story of all's well that ends well but put together very well.

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

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Roman Count Down by David P Wagner



The story is a simple one. One of the upper class Counts has been found supposedly murdered just outside his residence. The police do not find any enemies or suspects as such. They are under pressure from the Countess as well to find out how and why her husband is murdered. That she was a strange bird is another part of the story.  Enter Rick who has decided to come to Rome and live there, uprooting himself from his American lifestyle to adapt to his Italian roots. His uncle is the Detective on the case and he ropes Rick in to help.

I was nonplussed how a civilian could be officially roped into an investigation but that is beside the point. The story reads more like a travelogue on Rome with special emphasis on food. Food in restaurants, food in cafes, food in hole in the wall grocers (delicious, fabulous) and traveling in and out through Rome brought the city to life in this book.

I like travel in every form so this was a lovely choice for me. I enjoyed the forays that Rick made into the by ways of Rome and how he extricated himself from them as well. You got a view of Rome from the expat as well as from the local.

Very nice reading (the murder was solved at the end) so two birds with one stone!

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

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths



The past is reaching out to both Nelson and Ruth - in ways that are strange as the author of the previous missives is now long dead. Who could be knowing the style of writing, the cryptic poetry and the messages it conveys other than Erik himself and they both know he is dead.

When the body of a little girl is found within a henge (a circle of stone) and when carbon dating proves that it is of recent origin the detectives get their cold cases together to find out who would fit the profile.  Apart from solving the case of the missing Margaret, there are many threads from previous cases which link all the characters together. From Michelle Nelson's wife who is about to give birth and does not know whether it is her husband's or her lover's child she is expecting to Ruth who finds it bitter sweet because Nelson is the father of her Katie. So much of inner tension in the story underlying the professional relationships which have to be maintained at all costs and impersonally, if the case is to be solved.

This was a different take on a mystery murder story. The detectives themselves had a convoluted history and apart from the main two, several others were also involved in the story. It added a different structure to the story.

Very much of a page turner in a different style this was a very good read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

All the Missing Pieces by Juanita Tischendorf



An extremely rich powerful family in New York with two children. The boy brought up to inherit the fortunes of Coral Ridge almost totally owned and powered by this family. The girl Katrina wayward from her days as a teenager ends up in a marriage disapproved by her parents, disowned by them and she dies and then her husband leaving behind two children.

The story of the two children Tyler and to a lesser extent Alyssa brought to the Engelman household and held in disdain and dislike by both their aunt and uncle and terrorised by their cousin Barstow. That a family could treat their own with such dislike, such coldness which was the worse form of cruelty and overlook the ill treatment of the children by their own son was harsh. It also continued till adulthood and finally led to the rape of Alyssa and the utter humiliation of Tyler.

The story gets more and more twisted as it went along - with the older Engelman's becoming lonely, alienated from the community and the end is surprising.

Terrible families, dysfunctional relationships, harsh living all found in one story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of J. Tischendorf Services.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

From One Hell to Another by Liz Cowley & Donough O'Brien



Carmen and her two sisters were from a close knit, conservative Spanish family. With the outbreak of war, their father thought it was time to send them along with their mother Maria to his cousin who lived in France. They got out in the nick of time.

Settling into a village life in France was hard. Language was a problem and though schooling sorted that issue out very fast, Maria lagged behind. She was never comfortable with the French language, found the accent difficult to comprehend and remained isolated throughout. It did not help matters because she still brought with her traditional values which in the French context were out of date.
When the Germans invaded Poland, and then France Carmen decided enough was enough. She wanted to do something constructive with her life and joined the Resistance. The family was again in the midst of war and though not as bad as other villages, life was tough.

Pedro was struggling to maintain the farm he got from a friend of Carmens (when the boy was conscripted) and making huge amount of supplies to the German army made making a living precarious. When Ottillia the second girl began a liaison with a German soldier matters became worse. Ottilia was the hard headed girl who did not listen to advice and despite knowing what became of those who befriended Germans she continued the relationship.

The day to day life of the average person in the village juxtaposed with the life and deprivations of those who joined the Resistance and who faced major setbacks and hardship were very descriptive. The thread of romance going through the book in various forms shows that love will find a way in the most difficult of circumstances. It added another layer to the story.

Moving from one war to another was difficult. They came as refugees hoping to find peace and ended up in another bigger war. That they all escaped with their lives despite being foreigners was no easy task.

Very good historical detail of one of the lesser known contributions of the Spanish to the French resistance and war effort which is forgotton most of the time was detailed here.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Troubadour Publishing Ltd.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt



In the city of Stoke a 16 year old girl is murdered in broad daylight, within minutes of her friends departure on a cross country run. The school is just yards away and when they turned around and walked back, they found her dead. Two days later a young woman leaving after work is abducted and her body found strangled in a field.

DI Grace Allendale is tasked with the job of finding who this serial killer is and when a third girl is attacked, the agency knows that they are in trouble. There are no clues, no links between the victims and only when an online chat line becomes a common link do faint clues appear.

Dealing with psychopaths and trying to unravel what goes on in an irrational mind must be an almost impossible job and this is what these detectives have to face. A tight knit community, and when children are hurt things can get ugly for the police as well.

There are differing points of view shown in the story - from the police side and from the "other" side. It added a lot of interest and kept one on your toes throughout.

A real page turner.

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

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Taking Heart by Rowena Summers




When their nice cosy life is unexpectedly turned upside down with the crash of the family business, Imogen being the eldest is forced to take on the responsibility of her ailing mother who is in the early stages of senility and two younger sisters. Her father is totally blown away by the loss of his business and a huge loss of confidence in himself as a provider. Then the family is dealt another huge blow by the tragic death of their mother leaving them all rudderless. Though Frances was ineffective in dealing with the day to day lives of her family, she was very much loved and her loss affects them all badly.

Imogen comes up with the idea of taking in paid lodgers despite it being anathema to the society they live in. The youngest Teddy is sent along with Daisy to their aunt's house till they sort things out and Elsie and Imogen decide how they are going to manage not just their finances, but their personal lives and their father who has now become ineffective.

When the firm which took over their business offers their father a job, it is a life saver for him but for Isobel she feels the family are not being loyal to the Caldwell name. When her sister also joins the firm she is appalled but she is holding out but for what she doesnt know. The fact that everyone seems to have found some niche for themselves, along with boyfriends and a purpose whereas she seems aimless and jobless is enough to create tension for Imogen.

The onset of WWII is also imminent but the girls do not seem to want to acknowledge that it is going to happen. Whether reading about it in the newspapers or  listening to the news is not the "done thing" for young women of the era I don't know but in this family they all pretended to be deaf and blind to what was happening in the world outside their little town, until it blew up in their face.

The family story of the Caldwells in the setting of just pre WWII was a good one. It embodied family values of the time, along with the position of women and what was expected of them. Family tension and rivalries were also seen - the way women took over the working world had still to come with the actual out break of the War. Characterization was interesting because we had all kinds of people in the book - from the flighty to the serious, from the domineering to the more submissive types.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Quickening and the Dead by J C Briggs

 


London 1850 and what intrigued me most was the involvement in a big way of Charles Dickens!

Three girls murdered. There is a link of a spurious awful Doctor who has used his position of supposedly being moral and ethical to ruin three women and on further investigations many more.Annie is in Newgate prison for the murder of Dr.Plume and it does not help that she does not talk about the case to support herself.

Collaborating with Sam Jones, both he and Charles Dickens believe that the girl is innocent and now they have to find out through a very complicated web of people, stories and deceit to find out exactly what went on and how they can get Annie set free.

The setting was a very good one but poor downtrodden London is a far cry from the fashionable soirees and houses of London's aristocracy. The wealthy had it all and the poor were left in miserable conditions. It is no wonder that death took away so many children and people alike as disease was rampant.

Descriptions of the poorer parts of London were heartbreakingly rough.I felt I had to skip paragraphs as it was too graphic for me but then this is part of the story. It was a very good introduction to Dickensian England.

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



Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Mortal Blow (Lady Fan Mysteries) by Elizabeth Bailey


The year 1791 and Lady Ottilia and Lord Francis are on their way to see his mother when in a woodland a woman stands stock still in the middle of the road, covered in blood. Thinking it may be an ambush they are cautious in approaching the woman, but Fan realises that she is almost catatonic and unaware of who and what they are.

Investigations reveal a dead man minus any injuries so where did the blood come from? Lady Fan her investigative antenna fully operational takes on the woman and the case which unravels slowly but surely with French emigres, a fanatic pastor father and a woman frail, fragile and at risk of hanging for murder in the absence of any other possible suspect and no witnesses.

My first foray into Lady Fan mysteries and I am a fan. I also like history and the setting was marvellous. Very descriptive of London in all areas from the high brow aristocratic circles to the poorest of the poor.

Slow deduction of this mystery murder added to the interest.

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








Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins















In a small town, a school reunion is being planned. Out of towners are expected and some who have made it big are also expected. Not all are looked at fondly especially Astrid who seemed to have taken great delight in taking away the boyfriends of all her school friends and then discarding them when it was not quite convenient.
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Memories seem to be harsh and though Krista now head cop of the small force in town is rightly proud of her position, she is slightly unnerved to face the crowd that is going to come. Her father who lives with her now is also a retired Detective. When things dont go quite as planned and when the body of Astrid is discovered brutally murdered, most people think that it is beyond the capabilities of this small police force since investigations reveal that it is not just jealous women or men in the community at play here.

When this becomes a triple murder Krista at times seems a little out of her depth and lacking the confidence to handle the situation alone. She does depend on her father for help and this is fine as otherwise she would have consulted outsiders in the force. The police procedure and the regulations which were followed and detailed in the book also add a lot of interest to the story.

Nice characterization as well of all who played a part in the book.

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

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Seventh Train by Jackie Carreira













There are some stories that are so improbable that it is quite possibly true. This is one such story!

I am also having a problem with blogger/computer? that does not allow me to place the post in the position I want to.

Elizabeth has invented this idea - with the idea of going nowhere fixed, having no idea of what the future holds, or rather where the future will take her. She gets on to the seventh train at a station, goes four stops then gets down and does it again - and again.  When she accidentally meets up with one character, then it becomes two, then they rope in a third the quartet becomes almost a family sharing their love of the unknown.

I was a tad bit envious of the lifestyle, the freedom of choice but it takes a brave soul and you do have to put something by to handle this on your own for a feasible amount of time.

I loved the quirkiness of it in total contrast to the sobriety of the character Elizabeth, the bounciness of one, the smart ass attitude of one and the normalcy of the other.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Troubadour Publishing Limited. 





Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Ghost of Hollow House by Linda Stratmann



In the format of an Agatha Christie this is a slightly old fashioned mystery thriller. Set in the peaceful Sussex countryside we know that appearances are deceptive and the Hollow House a very nicely turned out manor is no different. Bought by the affable Mr. Honeyacre for his bride he has refurbished and repaired it to the utmost comfort with staff to match. There is however one catch. Mina Scarletti is invited to suss it out and find out why supernatural occurrences are hindering the happiness and future of the owners.

There are a number of interesting characters. Mina herself a victim of scoliosis, a disease not understood in England of the 1860s, there is Nellie formerly of the stage, Mrs. Honeyacre herself formerly of the stage and then we have lovers and spies for ex husbands, an occultist and a photographer plus the usual staff of a countryside manor.

Unraveling slowly but surely the story is rather complicated but it devolves and the ultimate revelation is timely.

Very nicely told in an older fashioned tradition of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and their ilk.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sapere Books (a new publisher for me).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Winemaker's Secret by Cynthia Ellingsen



Abby and her family have dedicated their entire life to the vines and their vineyard.  That someone is trying to destroy their reputation and even sabotage their lives is becoming apparent and it is up to the youngest two Abby and her prodigal brother Dean to see to it. It does not help that Dean is a former drug addict who broke their parents heart, disappeared for years and is it is a coincidence that the troubles are beginning with his sudden appearance.

Abby has a fragile past. Beset with illness and lack of self confidence, this is a trait that is holding her back from her full potential. Her father and grandfather are not willing to let the reigns go to someone who is not confident to face people and Abby knows she has to overcome these fears to move forward.

Very descriptive of the countryside in which the book is set, the story of this wine making family is very detailed and interesting.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott



Addie has worked with books and in a prestigious library at that. She has now moved into her hometown to settle down with a small shop.

Her friendship with the Police Chief does not go down well with a certain lady and when June is found murdered, Addie finds herself mired in innuendo connecting her to the lady's death. No slander no libel possible, just a gossip column doing untold damage to her reputation and to her business.

Addie is determined to get to the bottom of the story and slowly a plot of pirate treasure, caves, family feuds going back centuries are uncovered. Added to this is Addie's own troubles of the heart, having just got over her relationship and now finding both the Chief of Police and the new Surgeon at the local hospital both attracted to her. She herself is in a quandary not knowing whom she likes the most and this makes her very unpopular!

Told in a step by step cozie mystery manner, this was a nice mystery murder read.

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Only One Life by Ashley Farley



Julia was from a wealthy household. But she had snobbish parents or rather an over bearing father and a mother who just went along with him. She also had an overbearingly bullying sister who never gave up.

When Julia met Jack she married him and whilst pregnant with his baby, Jack met with an accident and died. At the time Julia had been estranged from her family and although her mother appeared out of the blue in Julia's neighbourhood, she never met her. Just watched from afar and disappeared.

Julia became destitute and realized that the only way out for her was to seek help from her family. It was not easy and there was the father and sister together sniping away. When her father died and left his entire wealth to his eldest daughter, questions had to be asked as to why he would leave his wife and younger daughter bereft of any of his wealth.

Her mother's past and questions about her birth are the answer to Julia's questions and though buried in a decades old story it unearths the reason why her father disliked her. The questions of maintaining a facade in their lives and marriage, led to so much heartache and pain all for the lack of communication - forthright communication on a touchy topic.

A family story with more than its fair share of heartache.

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell



An affluent home and a child snatched. Ellen is four years old and has been brought up in an isolated manner for reasons only known to her father the famed Dr. Curtis. She goes with her kidnapper because he said her father said so. She has been taught to follow instructions.

DI Amy Winter is put on the case and investigations reveal a very tangled story which has to be slowly unravelled if the Curtis's want to see their daughter alive. The fact that they are slow to give information, albeit reluctant to talk at all points the finger at them squarely but this is discounted with a second child, this time a disabled one is taken away from school. The links have to be linked and then Amy may find who is responsible.

Many of those close to the children say it is Luka who is the kidnapper but Luka and his mother died in a fire years ago. No autopsy was done, no remains can be found so the suspicion is now rife that Luka is very much alive and he is seeking revenge for the experiments that Dr. Curtis carried out on him and other young children in his care. All for the sake of science and for the benefit of humankind, but at what expense to those who were experimented on..

Uncovering a story of monsterish proportions DI Amy is working against time and against a kidnapper who seems to know her every move, and only wants her involved in the case. A cat and mouse game begins and the end is surprising.

Very good suspense/thriller/mystery holding the audience captive.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Re Tyred (Discovering India) by Sara McMurry

Image result for re tyred sara McMurry cover images


I like travel memoirs and though this is not a travel memoir as such, it was much more than that. The writer spent months spread over a number of years in parts of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh as an English teacher volunteer. Her writings about her experiences in two very different locations added much interest to the work of teaching.

Rajasthan is desert country. Parched, dry and a hard life. Himachal Pradesh is picture perfect - mountains and valleys, green and fresh. The physical contrast alone was a very good story because the author paints a beautiful picture of both.

Her experience in dealing with simple, straight forward villagers who liked the idea of their children learning English but she also accepted the practices of the villagers and never tried to influence them to change their ways, despite her own personal ideas on the subjects. Very young marriages of girls at the age of 15 are common in the Rajasthan area, despite being illegal. Children are expected to help out on farms, with cultivation, with livestock. The family is of paramount importance, not the individual. The differences are many and all are very well articulated in this book.

Very vividly described both geography and people, this was a very entertaining read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Troubadour Publishing Limited.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Dare by Carol Wyer



Does any parent know what actually goes on behind the facade of their teenage children. I think we think we do, but we really don't!

Jane thinks she has a good rapport with her daughter. Not being rigid but there are guidelines and when her daughter does not return home by 4 pm on a school day and when none of her friends know where she is Jane's nightmare begins. Her body is discovered just a few hours later.

Natalie Ward is the detective on the case and she knows that this one is not going to be an easy ride. She feels that she is getting close to the killer, but then a second girl goes missing and she knows the killer is mocking them with the clues he leaves behind. A killing of a similar nature in another city rings a bell and now Natalie has to find some common link with the previous killing to check whether a serial killer is on the rampage. When Natalie's own daughter goes missing the nightmare comes closer to home.

Full of suspense this is a real page turner.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson



This was a really emotional read which was however not overwhelmingly so. The prejudices of narrow minded people (existing even today!) lead to so much sorrow and heartache and for our Cussy who just wanted to live a normal life was made just so much harder.

Cussy is a woman who is blue skinned. I had not heard of this condition and had to look it up. In an era of prejudice Cussy was an aberration and one who was ostracized from society as on a level with the African Americans and had to be treated accordingly with segregation and downright dislike.
Part of Roosevelt's Pack Horse Librarian services, serving distant communities and bringing reading and a modicum of education to others Cussy and those of her ilk did yeoman service in the face of prejudice and natural hardships covering long distances through remote, isolated areas.

Cussy was one of a few people who were blue skinned and despite that she was a happy soul who was satisfied that she was of some use to a community and also independent financially . That she was thwarted by the people surrounding her both in her workplace who were downright wicked and those in the community did not dull her spirit or her kind heartedness to others.

An interesting take on a part of American history and culture, also unknown to me until now.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick



I was lucky I got this book from Netgalley because I have not had much luck with many good books I've wanted to read. Those on the wish list never come my way so this was one was a really good break for me.

Told in two different time lines though in the lifetime of one person - William - the story delves into the personal and political life of both the Kings of England the political strife of Jerusalem and the difficulty in holding on to it in the face of Saladin.

Descriptive in detail from both the workings of households in both states, to the journey itself. Perilous, facing brigands and treacherous weather it was a pilgrimage in adverse conditions and from which many did not return alive. It was also no ordinary turn around journey William and his group spent several years in Jerusalem, lived there under the patronage of eminent folk, he became a secular Templar and this added another dimension to the story.

The telling of his story towards the end of his life when death was around the corner was poignant and far sighted. A life story of great interest, the story thrown back to decades before when William was in his prime was out of a fantasy. Overcoming odds, making decisions which were vital for the groups survival were all mind blowing. I loved the juxtaposition of both history and personal melding together very well into a whole.

Ancient history told in a way to capture the interest of any modern reader.

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

Monday, June 3, 2019

Trophy Life by Lea Geller





Trophy Life

Agnes Parsons came from humble beginnings. But she has now got used to a high maintenance life. With a much older, much richer husband and now a baby, she has got used to a very luxurious life, also strangely never wondering from where the money comes. She just goes with the flow, accepting her riches and quite oblivious to the situation around her.

When her husband does not turn up after going off to office, she has only the contact with his lawyer. There are no friends because her husband did not encourage any and when the lawyer tells her that her husband is in trouble, that there is no money, and that she should herself take her baby and disappear to a middle school and take up an appointment there Agnes accepts it packs up baby and a few things and moves across country to a crummy school, an even more crummier apartment and rather appalling school kids.

Throughout the story, I was slightly taken aback at Agnes's attitude. She just went with everything dictated by Don and her husband when he enigmatically called on and off, she accepted the explanation that he had cheated lots of people out of their savings, she put up with her horrible downturn in circumstances just for an opportunity to meet her husband once more and believed him when he said that this state was only temporary.

This was a quirky novel, a little unbelievable but at the same time showing how circumstances can change so drastically that you wonder whether you lived in a fairy tale before.

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

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh


The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #1)

I like stories with two separate time lines. This one from the very present modern pair of twins in an exquisite setting of the Marquess House and then we go back centuries to the time of the Tudor King Henry VIII and yes some of his wives.

1539 and Catherine Howard is a simple girl just arrived at the court. She wasn't to know that she would catch the rapacious eye of the King who just did not like his Queen - Anne of Cleves. She was too "plain" for him and he wanted someone younger, more pliant than a maturer woman. Catherine fitted the bill. That she did not like the King, and that she was coerced into the relationship is obvious from the start.

On the other hand we have Perdita and Piper who have been estranged from their grandmother who they believe cut them out of her life when her only daughter was killed in a car accident. Just days after her grandmother died, the twins are amazed to know that not only was their father in a very good relationship with their grandmother, but that their grandmother had followed every detail of their lives minutely and that both of them were her only beneficiaries of her estate.

How the two disparate stories come together is very well told in this epic story. History to a great extent, factual and very much part of the story and then the fiction crept in and what a story. It would change the history of the British Royals if factually true!

This was history, family saga, mystery and of course a fair amount of murder considering that we are talking of Henry VIII.

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Reluctant Hotelkeeper by John Searancke



Along with an idyllic cover, the story of a reluctant hotelkeeper who was forced into this occupation is a good one. Factual, hilarious and very matter of fact humour. Very tongue in the cheek humour very typical of a British attitude (I think). The British seem to excel at this.

Told over a span of several decades, inheriting a hotel which was run down, in a shambles, no known systems, the owners (his parents) not interested at all in its functioning and definitely in the red. How through sheer hard work and a few dashes of good luck and good timing, he turned the hotel into a star winning, accolade winning enterprise is a good story.

Handling staff, plumbing and electrical systems almost at the end of their natural life, dealing with irritating and interesting guests in equal measure kept the book alive throughout.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Troubadour Publishing Limited.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew



In the South in America the year 1961 still sees a lot of segregation and discrimination is rife. Loraylee lives with family and her young son Hawk whose parentage though suspect is never discussed either within the family or outside.

Urban renewal at the time seems to only focus on "black" neighbourhoods considered a blight on the environment due to its neglect, its lack of facilities and curb appeal so hundreds of these neighbourhoods are razed to the ground in the face of "development". When Brooklyn faces the same fate, how these three residents face them courageously is the story of this book. The end is inevitable but how they handle it with grace and dignity and the sense of survival that brought them this far, is very courageous.

Told in the language of the times and of the community this was a very well told story, especially for an outsider.

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

Monday, May 27, 2019

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

Little Lovely Things


Claire is having an absolutely horrendous allergic reaction to a vaccine. She does what anyone would do. At a rest station she hesitates whether to lock the car or not and thinks it is safer otherwise, leaving two sleeping infants in the car she dashes into the room, then collapses. Comes out to the nightmare every parent hopes never to face. Both toddlers and the car  are missing.

It is the best of suspense mystery novels. Two little girls, a mad couple heavily into drugs on the other side and a couple breaking apart over guilt, misery and no news. When the littlest one's body is found, a sense of dread pervades the story and you wonder what is the fate of the older girl because unlike the parents who know who has taken them. You know the character of the beast and you are fearful where his mind (the little he has of it) will take him.

Holding on to your breath every step of the way, you are rooting for our couple, you are rooting for spunky Andrea now Colly and hope that some salvation is there around the corner. I felt for the McCann parents right then.

One of the best I've read this far.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth



In any other family Lucy would have been a very welcomed daughter in law. She was loving, warm and wanted to be part of the family.  She was a good caring wife and mother and I thought that was the main criterion for a mother in law! I was wrong. Diana was cool and collected and she kept Lucy at arms length. She did not dislike her but she was never welcoming either.

Diana and Lucy got on fairly well. You knew where you stood with Diana who had iron clad principles and beliefs. One was that despite being endowed with a lot of money, she was not going to hand out any either to her son or to her daughter, however dire the circumstances were. She had a tough beginning herself and believed that you worked to overcome that. Nothing could shake her from that belief.

When Diana was found dead with a suicide note by her side, the family believed she had cancer and that may have caused her to take her own life. When that fact was disputed with no oncological records at all and when a vial of a drug found to cause slow, painless death was found the unraveling begins.

Unfortunately at the time of Diana's death both her children were in dire need of funds. The son because his partner had run the business down to the ground, they were in debt and everything had to go. Nettie the daughter desperate to have a child, an obssession if you can call it that, failed IVF treatments behind her, now forty and knowing she had to have one more round. Detectives had a good case for suspicion when they ruled out suicide.

In typical Hepworth fashion the story unwinds slowly but surely. You never know who could be the one but you knew it was close to home.

Fascinating read and a real page turner.

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

Victoria by Richard Mullen & James Munson



I had just finished watching the film on this Queen and getting this book was just the right moment.
It gave me a further insight into what the young Queen had to face not just from her country, but from her own mother, her uncles and then her husband.

The biography was meticulously detailed. The commentary was succinct and precise. It reflected on Victoria herself. She seemed to be a passionate woman - one with a passion for her husband and then for her country. She was determined to do well by her country, and had to fight the obstacles than men within her circle (including her husband) threw in her way. Most men of the time just thought that she was a Queen in name, lording it over a nursery and a large one at that and happy to be satisfied within that circle. Victoria was far from that. She threw herself into every act of government being partisan to some (the Queen was expected to be above party politics) but she knew her own mind and had no inhibitions about it.

This was a wonderful read of a life of 81 years set out meticulously in a book.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Murder in the Dining Room by Betty Rowlands



After a rocky start, relations with her mother seem to be on an even keel and Melissa is keen for renovations to the extension to be finished soon so that her mother can move in and live with her on a permanent basis. In the meantime, the accommodation at the nearby retirement home is very good and her mother seems to have settled in for this short period.

The apparent murder of a pet dog and then the sudden demise of its owner sets Sylvia off on a tangent, determined that foul play is amiss and Melissa is terrified that with her interference that if there is an actual murderer around, her mother is the one in most danger as she is stirring things up without realizing it.  Initially skeptical, Melissa begins to think that something is amiss in the Home and that its inmates are not exactly what they seem.

Like everyone else, people are hiding secrets. There are skeletons in the closet that no one wants anyone to find and there are those who are determined to keep them hidden.

An old fashioned mystery murder, with slow detective work being laboriously followed up is this story. It does not mean it is boring though. Reminiscent of Miss Marple mysteries this was a good one.

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Murder in Midtown by Liz Freeland




1913 America and though women were beginning to have a place in society there were still strict boundaries and conventions to be followed. Many careers were completely out of bounds and Louise's decision to join the Police Force was something that did not go down well. Fortunately her own Aunt was solidly behind her but even at the Police Station the treatment meted out to her was derogatory and unkind.

Louise was a determined girl - she was very focused on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to get about it. Having helped in solving one murder, the next one that crossed her path she was not going to give up on, despite all the pressure to do so.  When Guy Van Hooten is found charred to death in a fire which is ruled as not accidental, she is on the case immediately. The fact that Guy belonged to one of the upper rich aristocratic families in the city did not deter her and neither the fact that looking into his death brought her into conflict with the mob were minor details where finding the truth was concerned.

A little unusual for her time this story had lots to give optimism for the future and know that the American girl was going the right way!

Humour despite lots of odds kept Louise going all the way.

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