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Friday, August 30, 2019

Just Another Girl On The Road by S. Kensington

I've always found it difficult to post from my iPad reviews, but I'm going to try.

The setting of WWII for stories is always emotional and evocative. There is so much courage, bravado, grit and determination shown and at the same time the lesser attributes of betrayal, cowardice and envy and very often the more basic " fear for your life" and for those around you.

This story encompasses all that is a girl of mixed background who found herself in circumstances and places beyond her control and displayed a sense of compassion to the dying which was not understood by all.

Displaying courage way beyond her 18 years our heroine is made of sterling stuff.

Slightly different to the usual settings of WWII.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Death at Ivy House by Betty Rowlands

Sukey Reynolds is not a detective. She is a photographer of crime scenes but that does not prevent her from having her own ideas of how and why murder happens. Her instincts have proven her right before but it does not go down well with her superior officer who thinks she is giving in to her fancies of how and why things should be done.

When a young woman is found battered to death in a gruesome way, many incidents at the same time seem to be linked to this crime but not in an apparent way. The links are hard to find and sometimes surface accidentally, and in some cases after a long time but there are many links and Sukey manages to connect the dots.

Sukey going off on her own investigation however brings with it, its own hidden dangers and the killer is now on guard knowing that the net is drawing closer and closer.

Old fashioned detection, though I did not care very much for the attitude of the senior detectives towards the women working in the force!

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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Tuscan Secret by Angela Petch

Anna's mother has died and has left her a sort of diary, scribbles in Italian in her native language. Her mother died of dementia and her siblings scoff that the writings amount to anything very much. Anna however feels that there is a message somewhere. Being at the cross roads of her life, with a broken relationship behind her Anna decides to go to Tuscany and try to bring some sort of comprehension to her mother's life, which was not a happy one.

Going back decades to WWII, to partisans, to traitors and to the resistance in Italy is the story and Anna's mother's role in this story in this small village who tried to hold out against the Nazi invasion.
Generations later, very few want to talk of the past but Anna wants to get to the bottom of her mother's story. What she found was unexpected and very sad, but Anna finds closure of some kind and love for the future. She discovers family which was totally unexpected and explains why she always felt that she did not quite fit in with her English family.

Delicately told of the horrors of the war and invasion, the deprivation of livelihood of food and basics and making do. Of not knowing who was your enemy, and who would betray you must have been living on the edge. The descriptiveness of this part of Tuscany was particularly beautiful.

As usual another story set in WWII depicted very well.

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

The Kratts were a power to reckon with in the town of Bound. Father had built up a store from nothing and one which sold everything and monopolized the sale of everything in the town. That he ended up in poor circumstances, embittered was another story.

Here we deal with Judith and her unerring love of things, the value she puts on stuff with a long ago sell by date, inventorying all that she has and reminiscing about what she has lost. She also lives in the past remembering past days, the intricacies of her Mamma's history and her involvement with a man of colour (unheard of in those times), and her brother's murder which sent her father into a spiral downwards and finally the return of the prodigal sister home.

It was a complicated story. Whether it was meant to depict a family from the South of the time I couldn't say but it was not a "nice" family that much for sure. Segregation was very much part of the scene and it was disquieting when one of the family got involved with the help. The remedy was drastic.

Disquieting story anyway.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

There is No Going Home by Madalyn Morgan

There Is No Going Home: A Bletchley Park Cold Case (The Dudley Sisters Saga Book 7) by [Morgan, Madalyn]

Another story with two separate time lines. A bit different though WWII related. Ena Green recognises a woman who is dead, whose funeral she attended. She is also very sure of this woman as she worked with her for four years and was a very good friend.

That there is something fishy in the discovery, and that the discovery will not be good for Ena is apparent from the beginning. Ena worked for the Secret Service and her husband Henry still does. Ena now works on cold cases at the Home Office and it becomes more and more apparent that many people are being used in a cover up because the entire case history has disappeared from the archives.
When people whom Ena interviews or talks to start getting beaten up and murdered both Ena and Henry particularly are worried that Ena will be their next victim. What is being hidden in this story which is a good depiction of history of the time.

Very descriptive and with good characterization the two time lines though not very far apart were distinct and well detailed.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of General Fiction (Adult)

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.