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Sunday, April 28, 2019

To The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey

Set in Alaska an expedition is going to set out on previously uncharted waters and territory. An expedition that is fraught with danger. Previous expeditions have failed but this is now a challenge to open the Wolverine River and get access to Alaska's rich natural resources.

Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester thinks of this as an opportunity of a lifetime being given the lead for such an important expedition. His young pregnant wife Sophie does not know what the future will hold when they are parted for an year.

The story said through journal entries, letters, pictures,  notes add a lot of graphic interest and strength to the story both personal and historical.

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Neglected Garden by Suzanne Winterly

Gilly and her sister Vanessa could not be more different. Vanessa is organized, methodical and has a plan for everything. Gilly is haphazard, unwilling to think things through and right now finds herself in a predicament. She has given up on her present job, walked out on it actually, is overdrawn at the bank, has no place of her own and knows she is on sufferance at her sister's flat.

A chance offer of turning a neglected garden into an oasis of tranquility serving five apartments with an employer who is not a control freak is a wonderful chance for Gilly to assert her independence and get her life back on track.

The employer himself a wealthy businessman seems to have a lot going on in his life, lots of secrets and is an enigma. It does not help that both Gilly and Marc are attracted to each other but both are wary of the future.

Involving past secrets overshadowing the present, a complicated case of revenge, abduction and over riding it all beautiful garden talk makes this book very readable! Romance with shades of suspense and mystery all evolve very nicely together.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Castle Mystery by Faith Martin

This story combined two loves of mine - food and mystery! Set in a castle the story couldn't  have been more appealing to me.

One day after Jenny takes up an appointment as the cook in this castle, Ava the governess is found dead stabbed through the heart. Alibis abound, everyone is accounted for but it is an inside job. The Detective Inspector who is sent to find out who did this murder is clueless where to start but Jenny has a head start as she knows the atmosphere is not quite right and immediately ferrets out information to show that almost everyone other than her master and mistress have a reason to dislike the governess.

Whether dislike is enough to murder someone has got to be seen and methodically Jenny goes about uncovering the real culprit.

Very entertaining, very chatty and a lovely light read.

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Wrong End Of The Table by Ayser Salman

Though described as a  "mostly comic memoir" it is also a very factual account of immigrant life and how someone will cope in modern America.

Considering the "Muslim" question post 9/11 Ayser had a tough time as it is to assimilate and be part of the crowd from the time she was a little girl. She was just different and she had a tough time beginning with her name. Her parents were highly educated, modern and forward thinking but they still carried with them different ideas re women and their behaviour and this carried out in their way of thinking towards their daughters. It did change by the end of the book, but it seemed hard and this seems to be quite the form and commonplace for most immigrant daughters Muslim or not!

Taking place across Iraq their place of origin which they got out in the nick of time, then crossing over to Kentucky and then back again to Saudi Arabia in which Ayser fit in surprisingly well and then back to the States where Ayser grew up and lived her adult life. Trying to find love, life and a balance between pleasing everyone else and then finally beginning to please herself.

This memoir, bit of travel guide and biography was tongue in cheek humor and factual as well.
Enjoyable read.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Murder At The Old House by Betty Rowlands

Another superb old fashioned detective story. Though it may seem to plod along without the suspense of the more modern mystery murder thriller, the stories still feel good and the descriptiveness of both the surroundings, the incidents and the characters are all spot on.

This particular story is definitely different as it hits closer home. Melissa has just finished her last book and looks forward to a rest. She receives the news that her father from whom she has been estranged for years is dead and she now needs to get back to her mother with whom she has never had any contact since she left home and try to find out what has happened.

Frank her father she discovers has not been quite good! giving an appearance of being a church warden and a man of strict moral ethics and principles he seems to be just the opposite and her mother is quite a helpless sort of woman who has never had the courage to take a stand. When her mother is arrested for her husbands murder and (released quickly) Melissa knows she has to take the investigation under her wing to try to find out what actually happened. It does not help that she is also not very sure whether her mother is the murderer or not!

Coping with an investigation on the one hand, Melissa has also got to balance an emotional reunion with her mother who does not seem to be quite aware of the gravity of her situation.

Good reading in an old fashioned sense.

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

The setting 1930s Australia. A very traditional family background on the one side and someone who wants to kick up their heels on the other. Two brothers very different, different ideologies but both committed to family and loyal to each other trying to come to grips with each other's world.

Raymond Sinclair just wants to live his bohemian life the way he does. He does not intend to harm anyone by it, but his family is annoyed by it. He has a number of friends who for want of another word are hangers on, living on Raymond's wealth even at a time of economic depression with widespread unemployment.

Some of them have radical leanings and the Communist angle is not one that is popular in Australia. There is a movement on both sides of the fence to gain ascendency and how they gain it is immaterial. Unearthing a plot was by the way. Raymond's main purpose of going in as a spy was to find out how and for what reason his uncle by the same name was murdered. Uncovering a vast spy network in which he even suspects his strait laced elder brother was an eye opener for Raymond. At the same time getting out of it was equally difficult especially when you assume another person's name and identity.

A lot of Australian politics is involved in this story. I liked to follow it as it was totally new to me. May not be appealing to a lot of folk though. A bit detailed.

A big bonus for me was the author is of Sri Lankan origin. I am always looking out for authors originally from Sri Lanka.

Thanks to Netgalley for sending me this book for an unbiased review, courtesy of Pantera Press.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Two short reviews. One philosophical. One historical!

A self proclaimed exile is rediscovering himself and trying to build a new life for himself in a small town in Oregon.

Adam has to find himself before he interacts with others. He is also fascinated by the history of the woman who lived in the house before him.

The book is peopled with a lot of day dreaming and life seems to be a bit dreamy. Moving to a small town and starting a new life in a library could be considered idyllic by many. For Adam it was a way of life he looked at whether this would work for him or not. There was a fair amount of negativity as well and altogether it was not an easy read to pin down to review.  I never really got to grips with the book but this could very well be my fault not that of the author.

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

King Frederick issues an invitation (an order actually) for Haydn to meet him. Haydn definitely thinks its a trap. The King has never appreciated his music and its a bit difficult to understand why. The Kings of this time are such wily beings that nothing they ever do seems to be what it should appear to be. It is wheels within wheels within wheels.

The story shifts from one point to another. From Empress Maria Theresa to Haydn to King Frederick himself. In between there are plots and sub plots all devious, all very complicated and all very reminiscent for history at the time. There is marriage talk but it is the hard headed talk not the romantic kind.

There is murder and Haydn has to prove that the ambassador was not just a common thief apart from finding his murderer.

Lots of sub stories within the main. Good for history buffs and lovers of European monarchs.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Kobo Writing Life. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

After the Funeral

Julie has taken the death of her mother very hard. Emily was ailing and weak and now Julie feels bereft and all alone. Finding a total stranger at the funeral claiming a relationship with her mother, and a very close one at that leaves Julie bemused, nervous and curious as to why her mother never ever mentioned this before.

To add to Julie's misery, she is not getting over her break up with her partner for five years and his apparent finding a new girl friend and also finding her heavily pregnant has added to her woes. She cannot believe that Greg had been unfaithful for such a long time and the agony is acute as he did not want children with her and she now finds him very happy about his impending fatherhood.

Unraveling the secrets of who Linda is, is the main crux of the story. Complicated and going back decades to a time when mental stress and post par tum depression was not understood the complications are dire and reflect on the present day as well. Handling misery on so many sides Julie feels her life is crumbling as nothing seems to be going right for her - personally or professionally. Her family life even with her step brother is disintegrating and there does not seem to be anything she can do about it.

The coincidences dovetailing are a little too precise to be believable but the story covering three generations of a family is a good one. It also reinforces my belief that every family has secrets well hidden!

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Anne Gallagher grew up with stories from Ireland. Not all the family secrets but enough of Irish history for her to love her roots. When her grandfather lay dying his last wish was his ashes to be sprinkled over the Lake or Lough of his birth. Though his death was inevitable, when it happens she is devastated and goes to Ireland wanting to also find something for herself of her history.

Going across the lake Anne is pulled into another time going back decades to when her grandfather was a little boy, and she his mother. Convoluted as it is, her absence and then her presence in Ireland draws the suspicion and questions of where she disappeared for five years and what her intentions are now. With her husband Declan dead, Ireland in continuous strife, Anne is drawn towards the calm, enigmatic Doctor Thomas Smith. How she is going to balance what she knows of the future, what she knows of her own life in America and can she decide to stay back in the past, or move back into her future is the question here.

Drawn into a history of which she has a little knowledge only, Anne is literally torn into two. To give her son the protection and love he needs in the absence of his father and to return the love shown by Thomas and then her other life as a successful writer in New York.

A very intense love story. Plenty for the history aficionados. This was a wonderful read.

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Song of the Dead by Douglas Lindsay

John Baden has been dead for twelve years. So when someone purporting to be him walks out of an Estonian forest claiming to be John Baden opens up a dead case which sees Ben Westphall go back to Estonia and then back to Inverness to track the case.

The case becomes stranger and stranger and facts begin to appear as fiction - as it becomes very complicated with overlapping characters and events. Ben Westphall our detective is himself carries an overlay of  sadness, loss and desolation. He seems slightly other worldish able to decipher feelings of loss and sadness in others and is able to read an atmosphere of most locations which seems out of place in a supposedly hard boiled detective, dealing with facts and figures.

The story is fantastic but intriguing. Not boring in the least but very complicated and at times I lost the thread of the story but I grasped it again soon enough.

I like the characterizations and the descriptiveness of the physical surroundings of both Estonia and Scotland.

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

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The House of Secrets by Terry Lynn Thomas

The House of Secrets (The Sarah Bennett Mysteries, #2)

Sarah is running away from an unsavoury past. The court case where she became the victim was horrendous and because Jack Bennett was the "nice" guy she has been hounded ever since. Dr. Matthew Geisler a psychiatrist with his own private hospital, has offered her a safe haven. Providing emotional support as well as financial she will work as a typist for his copious notes, and also use her talents as a psychic to help him.

Sarah is also in love with Zeke, a spy who inexplicably left her to face the wrath of everyone when the case blew up re Jack Bennett and she finds it difficult to move on from that fact. He is an inmate of the hospital and this adds to her mental troubles. At the same time she is worried by the spirits of people especially Matthew's sister who is definitely trying to tell her something and it seems it is vitally important.

Balancing the world of psychics and spirits, along with the machinations of someone who only wants to benefit from riches and who is trying to convince the world that a person is insane is this story.
Very well told and alternating between the two, both stories are separate but linked at the end.

Very good characterization, and the setting is very good too.

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

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo

Spanning just a year in the lives of several people, this book encompasses a whole spectrum of emotions and actions.

The book deals with current issues and those that have still not been resolved. War veterans returning to an empty life, no direction, no care. The book is very heavy and at times it did seem to drag but it is good reading and shows how great the impact of American interference in the Middle East has created. The havoc played on the minds, families and hearts of the American people alone is enough for generations to come.

I cannot say I enjoyed the read, but it was compelling reading.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons

John Wilkins was a very simple man. He did not like to create waves, he tried to be pleasant - overly so and was disliked for this. He was almost coerced into marrying someone who he began to dislike and then he fell head over heels for an attractive girl, who was way out of his reach.

Wilkins was subject to blackouts. No reason, no trauma and he had no clue what he did during one of these time outs.

Sheila Morton the girl whom he liked very much, was found dead at the beach at the time Wilkins was on holiday with his wife. Brutally murdered. The odds were stacked against Wilkins. He did not do any favours to himself during the proceedings. Even at the end of the story I was not convinced of his guilt!

The story is predictably slow - taking on the pace of the characters themselves. It may be tedious for some readers but it was fine by me. Not a story to be hurried through. A typical classic crime in an old fashioned manner.

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