My Blog List

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl



This was a lovely story. From war with its heartbreak and loss, there was also survival. There was love both in the past and present and always a hope for things better.

Told in two separate time frames from 1919 the story of Ellen and her love for Jimmy set against the Irish war for independence and then fast forwarding to an Irish woman of 2016 and her quest to build a life away from a manipulative and emotionally abusive husband.

Ellen was a simple girl who found employment as a maid. Her employer was a woman of distinct courage who was fearless in her support of the quest for independence. She knew Ellen was like minded and involved her in a few simple but very important tasks all helping the rebels. When Jimmy Ellen's sweetheart was involved in an attack, he was forced to leave her and move far away. He never knew Ellen was pregnant and at that time, the fate of unmarried pregnant girls was dire. The Madeline Laundries were horror chambers and Ellen who was sent there fared badly. Ellen disappears after the birth of baby James to try to find out what has happened in her own home, and when she returns she is told that the baby died.

The story takes off from there and Ellen has to find her feet sans any support from anyone because there is literally no one around. Picking up the pieces, we only unravel Ellen's life in 2016 when Clare Farrell literally running away from her husband discovers an old birth certificate and a medallion and tries to go back in history to find out to whom these belong.

Clare herself is trying to find her feet after a 25 year marriage has fallen apart and she is ill equipped to do so. Even simple things seem beyond her because her husband has over ridden all her wishes and done exactly as he wanted. But Clare herself knows that she is strong and that she must overcome those obstacles to live again, the way she wants to live.

Both stories bitter sweet and emotional, one set in older Ireland and one set in modern Ireland are equally very compelling.

A history lesson on the side also helped.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Murder at Benbury Brook by Betty Rowlands


 


Melissa Craig is a crime writer. She has now decided to give her fictitious detective a retirement and go into the world of literary fiction. Her nose however leads her elsewhere. Mystery and murder seems to follow her even in this idyllic village she now calls home.

Melissa is missing her friend Irish who lived next door to her. The house has stood empty but at last there seems to be a tenant - a quiet man who is the teacher in the local school. Melissa hopes the new neighbour will prove to be a good one. The village is turned on its head when one of its youngsters is found dead in a brook in the village. When a chance encounter with her next door neighbour turns out to be chaotic and frightening, Melissa now has to decide whether the man is innocent as she believes him to be, despite his shadowy past or whether he is just a victim of circumstance.

Believing him to be innocent, Melissa sets out on a dangerous path of proving the Police wrong and finding the actual culprit responsible for this murder.

Set in beautiful surroundings and extremely descriptive of this part of England - the Cotswolds added to the interest for me in this book.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy



Nine heirs and one billionaire. You know there is going to be trouble. Wherever money accumulates very seldom will you find the heirs amicable. This is one difficult bunch of people -relations and outsiders and all heirs to the particular frame of Malcolm's will.

It seems that Malcolm is actually inviting someone to murder him. One attempted murder, two murders, three incidents which are not murder but almost there puts a lot of tension within one house whose inmates are prohibited from leaving till the inquiries are over. The list of suspects can cover all and Jasper, retired British police living in France is giving a hand to the French authorities in trying to solve these murders.

All the people in the house have a history related to Malcolm - our billionaire. Some are known like his ex wife, his ex partner who stole his wife, his secretary, his nephew, There are some who are unknown and when the story unravels it shows all have grudges and cudgels to take up with Malcolm for slights done to them, injustices shown in the past some of which he is unaware to give him his due.

The ending is most enlightening. Something I did not envisage and even that ending though clear enough, still left you with one doubt clouding your vision at the end as to who was the real culprit here.

A very different take on mystery murder, similar to an Agatha Christie.

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




Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Country Rivalry by Sasha Morgan


A Country Rivalry by [Morgan, Sasha]


I seem to be on a roll with film people because this book too deals with a film crew. Set in the gorgeous village of Treweham we have the current Lord and his family on the one side and motley film crew doing a documentary on this village and its inhabitants.

That Malcolm the extremely clever and popular director of the film has his own agenda regarding the inhabitants of the manor, is not known to any. His idea is to get into the minds of the Lord Tobias and strip the veneer off his very popular facade and show to the world what villains they actually are.
All this is of course unknown to anyone and Malcolm proceeds to do just that.

The aristocracy in this case is a very loving family with their usual eccentric relations but on the whole one who has maintained close links to the community in which they live and is very protective of their inhabitants. Tobias, the present Lord is not going to stand for anyone trying to hurt anyone in his wide circle of family and village and will go to any length to protect them. When Viola the main editor working under Malcolm tries to jeopardize Tobias's family, he goes into aggressive mode and completely cuts the grass under Malcolm's feet without his knowledge.

Malcolm also begins to realize that his vendetta with Tobias and the family is cold comfort if he is going to lose the women he has fallen in love with. How the story ends with a very happy family reunion and love conquering all was very sweetly accounted for.

Descriptive of the Cotswolds to an extent that it could be a travel book added to the interest of this story.

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


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Dreaming of Tuscany by T.A. Williams



This was ideal for me in between reads of psychological thrillers and murders and mayhem.

Bee was on a shoot when she was injured along with the main star in a freak accident on set. Left with scarring on her face and loss of all her hair she is off balance and undecided what to do next. An offer of a secluded villa in Tuscany for as long as she wants chaperoning the film star who was also injured looks ideal and spot on. The star in question is reserved and moody but Bee takes on the challenge.

In Tuscany the villa is idyllic, the setting amongst Tuscan forests far removed from the imagery of Tuscany promoted for the tourists and Bee settles in very well. There are very few inhabitants in this remote part of Tuscany except for a manager of the estate and a few others.

How friendship develops between the off hand star and Bee and how romance develops resulting in a complete change for Bee is this story. A light hearted fun read in a beautiful setting which is very descriptive, makes you want to get to Tuscany at the first available opportunity.

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


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Death Comes to Call by Clare Chase


Death Comes to Call (Tara Thorpe Mystery #3)


Tara Thorpe is a young detective in the Cambridge police force. She is not without her enemies though within and outside the force. Having being stalked from the age of eighteen Tara has developed a keen sense of self preservation especially since the stalker was never found.

Now after a death defying solving of a crime, Tara and the team face the problem of solving another murder. A young woman strangled on a lonely stretch of the fens, followed by the death of her lover opens the field to many suspects. There is the husband and boyfriend (before his death), the employer who shows a sense of being jittery and nervous way beyond his feelings as an employer, there is the victim's brother and the list goes on. Each one has to have their alibis checked and double checked, motives if any ruled out and seeing whether old enmities exist within the family.

Tara is working closing on the case with her boss Blake. There are a few other detectives on the case and her unorthodox methods and tendency to not work as a team can get people riled. To top it all, she is aware that her former employer (a magazine) hates her guts and will do anything to bring her down, insidiously planting vicious rumours about her work ethic and her morals.

This was a very good mystery murder. I would not call it a cozy as it went beyond the cozy! I liked the characterization, the descriptiveness of the Fens and the way the suspense built up to an ending that got me by surprise.

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



Sunday, March 3, 2019

Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon


Anna and the King of Siam


The year is 1862 and the King of Siam is widowed with two small children to raise. Anna accepts the position of governess to the two small children but from the onset the relationship with the children's father is fraught with tension. The King is traditional and conservative, Anna looks forward to change.

Whilst being thoroughly intrigued with the customs and traditions of Thailand, Anna does not swerve from more modern principles of freedom and the abolition of slavery and it is her influence which led the young Prince to abolish both slavery and seek democratic reform in this ancient kingdom.

Most people know the basic story with its touch of romance as well from the The King and I, but this story researched in minute detail gives us the background in which Anna started her work and how she did not give up on her principles of justice and freedom for all.

I knew a bit of the background of this story but the book filled me in on the pieces I didnt know. Anna showed extreme courage in the face of constant adversity and persevered in her influence on the next generation. In this she was successful.

Good reading with detailed background of the actual setting of 19th century Thailand.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Danger on the Downs. by Bianca Blythe





I like cozies. I like when the setting is in England in nice old fashioned houses but this particular read though it ticked all the boxes was a little too stilted, a little too constrained for me.

The gentleman of the house - suave, polished and Bulgarian was found stabbed to death in his study. There was a full party of guests in the house. Of course all are suspect. The one who has to take the fall is initially the butler who is Bulgarian himself. The Bulgarian part was given a lot of emphasis in the story as if by being Bulgarian you were automatically judged as being anarchist and looked at with suspicion by all. The butler was harmless. The guilt lay elsewhere. A second murder takes place. This time it is the innocuous Accountant. The pace hots up and the detectives know that they have a killer in their midst.

Cora is one of the invited guests but her aunt is a servant in the house. So her position is rather mixed. Neither upstairs or downstairs though the hostess appeals to her to find out who is going to kill her husband (this was just a day before he was actually killed).  The onus of guilt spreads amongst almost all the house guests and then by a series of deductions falls on the murderer.

Cora is a former Hollywood child star. The other guests are a mixed bunch and some of them have much to gain from Mr. Ivanov's death but many have no link to him at all. When the Accountant is killed, there is no one who is going to gain by his death so who and why was he murdered.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Victory Editing Netgalley Co-op


Monday, February 25, 2019

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill



Having finished the book in record time, I am so sad that I could not get to all the books by this author. I just missed out one by a couple of days as it is archived, but I did get one at least.

Rowland Sinclair is an odd bird for the upper classes. He is more democratic, has communist ideals, does not fit in with the hounds and huntin groups, does not conform to finding a deb and a suitable bride and seems to have an eclectic bunch of friends. He is also financially independent, artistic (paintings not considered  exhibition worthy because of their content!) but is a happy man.

His father's death several years ago was always under suspicion. He was found shot one evening when Rowland was just a teenager and Wilfred the elder a few years older. Now the case is being resurrected, and a series of happenings show that there is a sinister hand afoot, giving out information which was private and within the family. A series of accidents involving Rowland, Wilfred's children  is too much to be a coincidence and the whole family is on guard.

Set in Australia on sweeping farms, with tones of more Downton Abbey than rural Australia this was descriptive and very good reading. The characterization of all was varied and added to the interest in the story. The uncovering of the villain in the piece was done step by step and the general telling of a simple mystery murder/s was very well handled.

I enjoyed my introduction to this author and will be looking out for more books.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman



I was first drawn to the cover. Who wouldn't like that appealing cover? I cannot understand the covers of some of the stories I read. So drab, so unreasonable for want of a better description.

Brie Middleton is a successful author of romance fiction, hot dashing heroes and steamy love scenes. Her personal life is in a shambles right now. Let down by a boyfriend who was more interested in image than her sterling qualities, he wanted sexy arm candy and when her weight started ballooning he ditched her. Brie went into hibernation, could hardly write and had no self confidence at all.

Her agent pushes her to go into a working conference in Salo, Italy helping out a fellow author in a crisis. How meeting Arran, working again with other writers and to be authors helped Brie to change her life around. She found a new love, a new focus in her life and it helped that the setting was so idyllic.

Liked the change from psychological thrillers and murder mysteries!

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Girl at the Border by Leslie Archer



Richard Matthis is a renowned archaelogist and he has discovered Etruscan remains on the island of Crete. Angela Harris is working for him very happy in her job. She is also escaping from her past and feels safe in Crete, thinking that no one would link her to this remote site.

When Bella, Richard's daughter goes missing Matthis drops everything and flies back home to help in the search. Four days later he dies in a strange accident. The relationship between Richard Matthis and his daughter has been tense and Angela over a very short period of time, pretended to be Richard and started a message conversation with Bella, hoping to make the relationship between father and daughter a warmer one.

With Richard's death, Angela has a compulsion to return to the scene of Richard's death and find Bella on her own. She has a feeling Bella needs her, and compromises her own safety because there are people out there who want Angela found.

A rather convoluted tale, including ISIS, a spy network amongst other things it was rather fragmented when all the other stories got in the way.  My personal view was that there were too many strands to connect and this led to a lot of confusion. I also felt the cover was awful.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen



It is the time of women's suffrage and Esther has fought for the Cause and lost all that she has held dear and close to her heart. Her father is firmly under the influence of her step mother and she is now not allowed to go home. Living with her Aunt is not a happy state but she is very happy at her job at Pennington's where she is given a free reign to create artistic and eye catching window displays for which the store is now becoming famous.

Despite her success at her job, Esther is not happy. She is lonely and feels that her Aunt is just tolerating her in her house. On top of it all Esther feels that progress in the suffrage movement is very slow and wonders whether a more militant way is the correct way to go forward.

Into this scenario steps Lawrence, a successful hotelier with two young children whose wife has died a few years ago. Balancing a career and his family he is not looking for love though seeing Laura he is attracted to her and then starts the story of Esther and Lawrence. Covering the shift in the suffrage movement and Lawrence's wholehearted support for Esther, they have to overcome personal hurdles to come to some sort of place where they can be themselves. Both have family histories of hurt and bitter feelings towards parents so they cannot let themselves be hurt by those they love the most.

A descriptive story of 1911 England, the suffrage movement and a love story coupled with the beginning of women's right to independence.

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sisters' Secrets by Katlyn Duncan



A story of family - and two sisters who have now survived and one particularly reaching out to the other sister with a hope of drawing closer and being a family once more.

Reen left the Burrow under less than pleasant circumstances. On her father's sudden death, her mother withdrew from her and never attempted to bridge the divide. Now diagnosed with dementia and very ill, Reen has returned mainly out of a sense of duty to just pay her respects and leave the next day. She did not think that meeting her ex boyfriend and her sister and seeing her mother in her pitiful state would lengthen her stay.

Rose her sister has a fantastic tale to tell of her mother's past and one which is unimaginable and not very plausible. Rose is of the mind that her mother was a mermaid at some part of her life, and that accounts for Reen's brilliant swimming performances in the past.

This was the basic story. I found the mermaid part a bit difficult to fathom or understand. I also found the writing rather stilted and this took away from the story.

The highlight of this story for me was that life is short, you never know which way life will turn out to be and it is better to forgive and forget and move on, rather than hang on to bitterness and history which can anyway not be erased.

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Murder in Langley Woods by Betty Rowlands



I read my first Betty Rowlands last week and now I am hooked! it is a rather addictive type of cozy and I will be sad when I cant get any more!

A local couple are vociferous when they find out that the old, broken down freezer that they put out for Council pick up has been nicked. Why they should be so angry only they will understand. They are even more angry when they discover that the murdered body of a girl is found in the dilapidated freezer. Slowly unraveling the mystery is Melissa Craig our own mystery murder writer and always looking for new copy to the annoyance of her boyfriend Ken former Police.

The setting is idyllic. We have a Cotswold village, all the usual characters and ongoing with the murder and solving the crime is Melissa's own personal life and how it is going to turn out. Her friend who owns the adjoining cottage has decided to move to Provence and get married and wants to know within a week what Melissa's idea is about buying her out and then we have her partner Ken also pressurizing her to decide on how they could make their partnership more permanent.

Hannah Rose our victim is from a colony of travelling gypsies. They are furious with the man who took her away and who is hence responsible for her death and they want to mete out their own form of justice to him.  Hannah also took a ride to Hungary with a truck driver in the area and all signs point out to Rocky as the most likely suspect responsible for Hannah's death.

Like all village murder settings, the suspect and the actual murderer are two completely opposite characters. You'll be kept guessing till the end.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib




This was a sad read and especially for anyone who is anorexic themselves or has a friend who is, not an easy read. It did not make it easier to understand the condition, and I really could not find that it makes it easier even for an outsider to think what one can do to help.

A dancer who is anorexic must be a dangerous condition. She thinks she could do better, dance lighter, get more roles, be more successful if she just avoids the cheese or goes one more mile as that is the obstacle holding her back. Reading it makes one realize the futility of this obsession and obsession it is.

No 17 Swann Street is set up to help girls like her but can it help permanently. Slipping back into the chasm is so easy, so very easy and for every girl they help, plenty more slip back.

A debut novel very emotional.

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


Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble




It is the time of women's suffrage and Esther has fought for the Cause and lost all that she has held dear and close to her heart. Her father is firmly under the influence of her step mother and she is now not allowed to go home. Living with her Aunt is not a happy state but she is very happy at her job at Pennington's where she is given a free reign to create artistic and eye catching window displays for which the store is now becoming famous.

Despite her success at her job, Esther is not happy. She is lonely and feels that her Aunt is just tolerating her in her house. On top of it all Esther feels that progress in the suffrage movement is very slow and wonders whether a more militant way is the correct way to go forward.

Into this scenario steps Lawrence, a successful hotelier with two young children whose wife has died a few years ago. Balancing a career and his family he is not looking for love though seeing Laura he is attracted to her and then starts the story of Esther and Lawrence. Covering the shift in the suffrage movement and Lawrence's wholehearted support for Esther, they have to overcome personal hurdles to come to some sort of place where they can be themselves. Both have family histories of hurt and bitter feelings towards parents so they cannot let themselves be hurt by those they love the most.

A descriptive story of 1911 England, the suffrage movement and a love story coupled with the beginning of women's right to independence.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer



The Kane family has a lot of controversies and family squabbles going on. Even in Silas Kane's professional life there are differences with his partners over a new investment. Silas Kane has steered the firm in a middle path, not given to extravagances and he intends to continue in the same way. Everyone is not very happy with that. Most people want quick riches and are not willing to wait ages to get their hands on the money.

The morning after Silas Kane's sixtieth birthday, his body was found dashed on the rocks. He had set out for his usual walk after dinner (a fact known to everyone) and it seemed like an accident. Not to the youngest member of the family who said it looked like murder. Clement Kane takes over as the heir, much to the joy of his wife Rosemary who only wants the money the position will bring. She was on the verge of throwing her husband over for her lover, but now all is forgotton with the newfound wealth brought by her husband! Clement's death by shooting in his study a few days later brings forth an unexpected heir - young Jim who was unaware of being the heir. He thought it was the female cousin living in Australia but apparently it was only if there was no male around that it went to her.

When a series of accidents coincidentally happen to young Jim, the police begin to suspect that even Silas's death may not have been an accident and enquiries commence. There are many suspects including the present heir and it has to be slowly whittled down one by one, till a most unsuspected  one emerges.

Nice old fashioned setting of a comfortable family, and all kinds of different characters to add to the interest, this is a very good comfort read.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey (WWII setting)



It amazes me that each time I read a book with the setting of the world wars, it always shows me another aspect of the wars which was unknown to me.

Most times poignant and emotional, it also shows human beings at their best (and worst). The Beantown Girls depicts a group of young women - fresh out of college, no experience of life or the world thrust into the grim reality of war on a scale that would be unimaginable to them from the homes they came from and the country they came from.

The stories of Fiona, Viv and Dottie who volunteered for the Red Cross, joined the Clubmobile group all with the idea of bringing cheer and support to the American troops on the ground are inspiring. Never faced with hardships, never having made to go without they led comfortable lives and now find themselves in an atmosphere of hard work, uncomfortable living conditions and still expected to be bright and cheery.

I loved how the stories panned out, each finding love (it had to be with the shortage of girls on the ground in comparison to the men!) but it also brought out the way each of them met their obligations of their jobs, not shirking from what was expected of them.

The characterizations were spot on, the settings were descriptive and the story was a good one.

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


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Murder at Larkfield Barn by Betty Rowlands

Murder at Larkfield Barn



One does not associate murders with close knit village communities in idyllic Cotswolds but a series of murders of old age pensioners, doing no harm to anyone has shaken the entire area plus has left the Police confounded.

When one hits the village of Thanebury and Melissa herself is the one who finds the body, she is shaken enough to try to solve the murder herself. A crime writer by profession always out for fresh information and ideas, the fact that this old lady was found with a clown's smile on her face was outrageous and ludicrous. It is also not known to the general community at large.

Chance encounters with several people in the village all get noted down as suspects both by Melissa and her boyfriend an ex-Policeman who has not let go of his investigative instincts. The suspects however have very strong alibis and reasons as to why they should not be suspected from a group of precocious teenagers to a charismatic, flamboyant preacher, even someone who was going to be blackmailed for her past.

The final suspects were totally unexpected and typical in the style of Agatha Christie were revealed at the very end.

If you like good characterization, idyllic village settings and murder this is for you.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp



Medieval times was a harsh time. Not just for women but for men as well. I can see how the life in a monastery or a nunnery would appeal to many. For those men who had nothing to inherit, for women who were not married for whatever reason, these would have provided safe sanctuary and for the most part it did.

This book however deals with the not safe part where Cromwell egged on by King Henry VIII and this time around Cromwell was looking to close every abbey and monastery there was in the Kingdom and ruthlessly take over whatever possessions they had. In this case, it was pitiful. Their possessions were meagre, the nuns themselves were permanently starving, they were always cold as they lived in a very wind swept part of Britain and they were all homeless. When the abbey closed, some of them got placed in other abbeys but three of them - the three most vulnerable were literally put out on to the streets to fend for themselves.

Joining a band of people in similar circumstances, the three of them hoped merely for survival. To be able to live to see another day. Sadly one died and the remaining two the indomitable Margery and Grace who was sent because she disgraced her aristocratic family by falling in love and getting pregnant, are forced together by the infant son who is ignored by his mother and lovingly brought up by Margery to join forces to just survive.

The story is an emotional one of injustice, hardship, sheer misery, intolerance and hatred. The story of Margery and Grace is a good one though.
Tough reading but this is actual history.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Drowning by J P Smith



Summer Camp - for me it was interesting as we do not do summer camps. You send children on school trips for the day and are very nervous till they return! the idea of sending them for weeks somewhere without parents is a little difficult to fathom or accept.

Joey Proctor was a little boy. Little in physique as well. Seemed to have been the ideal size for bullies. Alex Mason was the swimming coach himself just a young man. He was maybe a bit without empathy and only sought to make the boys tougher, and his one goal was that at the end of the camp he would make them swim. Whatever it took. This is what he did to Joey. He left him at the end of a raft hoping he would dive in and join the other boys. He never did. He disappeared. His body never found. Left to a ripple tide of effects felt far and wide.

We go fast forward twenty one years. Alex Mason is married, very rich, very well established in one of the biggest construction companies in his part of the world. He has two young children. Things start happening to him. His pool gets filled with blood tainted water with a slogan chiseled out at the bottom, he gets snapped feeling up a girl at a bar and the photos are sent to his wife, the locks in his so called unbreakable security system at home are broken and the intruder videos the whole family sleeping and sends it to them. All connected back to the disappearance of Joey Proctor. But, and this is a big but there are no demands. It seems like a slow process of breaking Alex Mason down. From his losing an employee (again the same swimming technique he used with Joey) because he thought the young Peter was actually Joey and then covering it up to look a suicide, to the murder of an old man on a visit to the camp who tried to insinuate that he knew exactly what had happened to the slow loss of his contracts to a competitor the whole situation breaks up both Alex and his marriage and you know this is not going to end well.

This was a creepy one because it was insidious, slow and vicious. I did not know who the perpetrator was till the end.

Good characterization. You tended to look on Alex with dislike not just because of what he did to Joey but he was callous and cold hearted and distant with everyone including his family.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Abbot's Agreement by Mel Starr

The Abbot's Agreement (Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon Chronicles #7)


Hugh de Singleton is on his way to Oxford along with his faithful retainer Arthur when he comes across the corpse of a young monk in a field.

Hugh is a bailiff himself and he reports the matter to the Abbey where the young monk was a resident. The murder was surprising and planned and it uncovers a story that is very human. That monks are also human, subject to all the feelings of love, frustration, anger, remorse and revenge that everyone else is subject to. Also subject to avarice, the love of power and prestige which is sadly most prevalent amongst many religious today.

Set in ancient times, it is most descriptive of the era and the manner in which abbeys or monasteries were run, the spartan way of life which would be unacceptable today, the fact that it was younger sons who had no assets who sought a way of life which was not always to their liking but they had no choice, and hence they were held to ransom by unscrupulous heads of the abbeys who knew the boys had no choices left to them.

Uncovering not only a felon, it also became apparent that in this particular abbey was a group of heretic monks professing a faith totally forbidden.

Though slow, I enjoyed the read very much. May not be a book with its religious theme which will appeal to all, but the style of writing, the setting, the characterizations and the descriptions were all spot on. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer



Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, we have a perfect well liked gentleman found bludgeoned to death. As is usual, however we also find on further probing the gentleman was not such a perfect one after all.

Ernest Fletcher was a light hearted ladies man. When he was found murdered at his desk in his own house the investigation reveals that the root cause for the murder has to be linked to a woman. There was also a very small time frame, just a few minutes before he was murdered and his body discovered by the local bobby actually whilst on his rounds.

Conflicting reports of all those involved in the crime throw up nothing because each person sticks to their original stories and their alibis all seem to be holding up very well.

Like all good classic crime novels, this one was hard to catch. It caught me unawares.

I've liked Georgette Heyer for her regency romances and now I like her for her crime novels as well.

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


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron




I like stories told in two separate time frames. They were also of separate genres though a love story was also part of the main stories.

Laine is following her friend to France to participate in her wedding there. Unexpected and totally unforeseen circumstances force the friends to forsake a honeymoon and return to the groom's roots in Ireland. Bequeathed a castle in Ireland with a history no one really knows much about, Cormac turns to Laine to help him find out what are the secrets in the castle, and how it can bring about peace in the family.

Told alongside this and linked to this castle is the story of the Easter Rising of 1916. Bloody, violent and merciless. It pitted Irishman against the detested English and the Protestant faith and it was long and tore the country apart. In sheer numbers the Englishmen fought to maintain supremacy and in the best forms of a rebellious army the Irish proved to be equally adept at outmaneuvering their masters.

There was strong characterization of women who played major league roles in 1916 in Ireland. Not easy on the women at all. There were love stories and tales of treachery and death but it did not detract from the sheer story telling of both time lines.

The present and the past stories both wove stories of love and faith, survival and family so those were common to both stories.

This was a lovely read which has to be savoured rather than rushed through.

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

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Liar's Wife by Samantha Hayes

The Liar's Wife


Ella is scared and worried. She wakes up in hospital after an accident and the nurse assures her that her husband is waiting anxiously for her to get up. Ella despite the injuries knows that she has never been married and is now terrified that her past life and the secret she carries is about to be exposed.

This is one of those psychological thrillers where you root for the party who is downtrodden and in this case it is Ella and you hope that she will be able to get out of this predicament.  It is quite a dark read and maybe not for everyone! It keeps you on edge right up to the end.

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


PS - Reviews are not very regular because hubby has been ill throughout the Christmas season and right now even, not quite right.




Friday, January 4, 2019

A Family Affair by Mary Campisi

A Family Affair (Truth in Lies, #1)


I think a story like this is only possible in a vast country like America. Here where everyone would know everyone and find a long lost connection as well, this would be implausible if not impossible.

Christine Blacksworth world is turned upside down on the death of her father. She was dearly loved and very close to him, not so close to her mother who is a very manipulative and calculating woman.
Now Christine wants to find out who the woman is and why more importantly her father bequeathed a sizeable sum on his death.

Situated in a tiny town of Magdalena, Christine discovers a mistress whom she is ready to hate with all her might but meeting up with her and her daughter Lily who has Downs Syndrome and the enigmatic Nate puts Christine questioning who was the sinned and who was the sinner here. Her father for not being able to make up his mind between his mistress and his wife, and enjoying the best of both worlds - hypocritical to himself and to his ideals, his wife who pretended she did not know of the mistresses's existence or the mistress who had her partner for just four days every month and who yearned and counted the days till he returned and this went on for over 15 years!

A complicated story with a nice ending, romance, family and survival.

This was a free download. After a very long time I found something which I enjoyed from the free titles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths





This was gothic but set in modern times with very modern characters. The characters portrayed were teachers, their present day normal teenagers, single mothers trying to do their best (in their opinion!!) for their children, and like countless families actually knowing very little of what their children are upto.

Clare is writing a book on R M Holland and the mystery behind him. She also teaches at Talgarth High which is where Holland lived and his wife had a tragic end. The mystery surrounding his daughter Mariana survives to the day. When one of her dearest friends are found murdered on similar lines to the Holland stories with tag lines from his writings, Clare knows she is in some danger. When Rick another fellow teacher is found stabbed to death in Holland's study Clare has to figure out who and most importantly why people surrounding her are being targeted. The danger spirals when Herbert her pet goes missing and then her ex husband is stabbed in London in a seemingly random attack.

Are these attacks as random as they seem, what is the significance of the notes that appear in Clare's diary which is secured in her house, her daughters random reaches into the spirits - all happening at the same time, all either connected to the Holland book or is it something else entirely. The detectives in charge have to put random clues by a clever murderer together before he strikes again. Both the final almost victim and the murderer were surprises to me.

A book I couldn't put down combining murder, the spirit world, a bit of Gothic and 21st century schooling with touches of romance put together well.

Sent to me by Netgalley, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.