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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Regency Scandal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

Viscount Shaldon has had a disturbing childhood. His father has never actually shown any affection always associating his son with his mild mannered mother. Now the Duke wants or rather insists that his son marries Cynthia Lynley, an attractive girl who is their neighbour whose lands run alongside their own. Shaldon is not very keen on marriage but Cynthia is very beautiful and he feels that the match will not be that bad. Intrigue sets in very quickly however when an innocent girl gets unwittingly drawn into a scandalous past and when an employee of one of Shaldon's friends feels that he is put upon, and ignored and decides to take matters into his own hands. Past scandals buried for years are now being uncovered and the Viscount faces disinheritance and being ostracized from the aristocracy for the fault of his father. Uncovering the mystery, and to set things right is not easy because there is viciousness and jealousy behind the actions of a few. A Regency romance but with lots of other stuff coming in to make the story quite an intriguing one. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Girl Without A Name by Suzanne Goldring

Two time lines for this family story 1940 amidst the war and its aftermath and then 2004. Billie is one of three children all grown up, their mother has just passed away and their father is trying very hard to keep it together and move on. When he has a stroke, Billie takes over his care and finds a crumpled photograph. When shown this Dickie becomes distraught trying to tell her something which is incomprehensible to Billie. Trying to go back sixty years is hard. Most of the people who associated with Dickie are either senile or dead. Billie is adamant that she must put the pieces together for the sake of her father and later for the sake of the dead girl Ruby. This becomes a very circuitous exercise but Billie will not give up. The adage that somethings should be left undisturbed is very valid here but in this context it leads to a very interesting tale. For Ruby it was heart breaking to see that her idol had feet of clay, for Dickie it was decades of guilt which became too much to bear. The whole gamut of emotions are played out here. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Sugar Merchant by James Hutson Wiley

A 11th century story has to be I thought a bit slow, interesting but slow. This proved me wrong. Thomas lost his entire family in a raid. Through sheer doggedness and good luck he ended up with a monk who took him back to his monastery, and became the father he had lost and the monastery became the family he wanted. A bright spark, he took to learning, academic as well as others and the senior monks ear marked him for a future far away from rural Eynsham. Entering into a world of trade, totally unknown to him the adventures of Thomas were myriad and wide. Encountering Jews and Muslims he befriends both communities, establishes a profitable commercial venture/s, marries a Muslim despite a fatwa against it and becomes a person of stature in the Islamic world he embraces. The story was fascinating, fast paced and held my interest throughout. For those who like history it provided enough, it was also a personal story of rags to riches and this enthralled me as well. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Regency Christmas by Susan Payne

Three delightful Christmas themed stories. All set in Regency England. Penelope from a very good family has fallen on hard times, trying to protect her brother Christopher who is in debt, always wanting more and being drawn into the wrong circles. How does one protect a grown up boy in Regency England, with the restrictions placed on women. The second story was slightly hilarious. Lord Williamsburg at 40 realises that he must marry and have some heirs - he has left it rather late. But in his search for a bride, it seems that the girl's mother is the one who is attracting his attention the most! The third story set in Gunter's Tea Room amidst all the pastries and fancies made me wanting to eat and taste them all as the cooking is part of the attraction of the story as well as the love story which followed. Ideal to put one in the Christmas spirit. Sent by The Wild Rose Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Murder in the Snow by Verity Bright (Book 4) good standalone

I did not feel particularly Christmassy this time around. It has been a hard time all over, this book however did get a spark going in me. Lady Eleanor is at her ancestral home after many years and celebrating a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings. That includes entertaining the whole village to a lunch, a run in the park, gifts for the children, card games for the ladies and plenty to eat and drink. It is meticulously planned by all the retainers at the Manor and everyone looks very much forward to the events. No one thought that a murder could get in the way and though shushed up for the day so that everyone could have a good time, investigations have to start and suspects galore abound as the victim was an extremely unpopular man. The suspects start out with the timid parlour maid and then go on to Mrs. Trotman a more unlikely suspect who is anyway taken in by the local Police for questioning. It is upto Lady Eleanor and Clifford her faithful butler to take matters into their own hands and try to get to the bottom of this mystery. Very much English, very old school this was a lovely read and I thouroughly enjoyed it. I will be looking out for more books from this author. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Absence of Mercy by S M Goodwin

Jasper is not the run of the mill detective found in the British forces. He is a decorated war hero, much admired for his skills, also a Lord of the peerage and detested and disliked by his father. Being a second son was not easy growing up with the Duke as a father who made every meeting a taunting one, especially since Jasper had a stammer. His mother was indifferent and subsequently Jasper realised that the Duke was actually not his father and this could account for his attitude (at least in part) Being a detective was abhorent to the Duke but he had no control over this but he maneuvred things in such a way that Jasper had no option but to take up a post in the New York Police force, apparently to teach them a few detecting skills. On arrival when he was thrust into a murder investigation which involved the aristocracy of New York society and with the twin spectres of finding out who the murderer/s were and also not allowing the media to splash it over the papers was a herculean task. Dealing with gangs, corruption both within the police force and the municipality, thuggery, intimidation from the Police force itself and to top it all a divided police force made Jasper realise his job was no sinecure and his father had deliberately sent him there, hoping he would fail. Using all his skills Jasper encounters adversity after adversity and overcomes them with politeness and clarity - things unknown to the New York detectives! With a fabulous Paisley (valet) in the background this was a totally gripping read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

19th century Bombay is the setting for the story. We have Captain Agnihotri a half caste as it is crudely said, just retired from the Army. We have a Parsi family the Framjis wealthy urbane and social. Friends of the British Raj and benefitting immensely from that friendship. I have always been interested in minority communities and the Parsi's have fascinated me. This story drew me in. Even in the 19th century, they were different to the mass of Indians - very different, very far thinking, educated and elite. This gave them an edge always, (as it still does). The Framjis have faced a double bereavement. The daughter and sister of the family in deaths deemed suicide. Adi the young husband of one and brother of the other and the family deem that there is more to the deaths and the Captain is brought in to use his skills as an ex military man to get to the bottom of things. Crossing to Lahore and to the princely states (under the British Raj some of them) some of them independent was a precarious journey and Jim Agnihotri's enquiries obviously set the cat amongst the pigeons. Set upon, beaten up badly Jim knows that he is on the correct path but is frustrated because every person who could be a possible witness or who could give information is terrified to do so. Who is the person who is behind the terror, and what information did he have over the young ladies that he could use them to blackmail them so much. So much history, so much drama, political machinations plus a touch of romance all set beautifully together in this story. I will be hoping that this author will publish more and will be looking out for the books. Sent by Minotaur Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb

Brynn escapes to Wharton, a quiet holiday town to have a respite from a very turbulent recent past. Putting up at an inn run by the very lovely Luann she meets up with friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere - at the beginning. When a dark turn happens and things of a paranormal nature begin to happen, and happen frequently Brynn knows that the inn holds secrets from decades past and that someone from the past is trying to reveal them to her. Why she is being chosen for this task is beyond her comprehension, but when she finds a soulmate in another visitor at the inn, Brynn feels that the whole story is now being linked. The sense of the past is very strong throughout the story, but it is only at the very tail end of the book that I began to get the gist of it. It takes some figuring out and may not be to all tastes but who can account for life after death or what happens in the hereafter. A story that got me thinking, held me interested till the end. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Manhattan Secret by Marie Bernadette Dupuy

1886 France - Elizabeth is a happy child with parents who dote on her. The family history however is troubled and her parents decide to immigrate. Expecting her second baby, the voyage is harsh and her mother dies in childbirth on the voyage itself. Her father is distraught but determined to set course for New York and to set up in the carpentry field which is his speciality. Fate however has other plans and he loses his life within a few weeks of arriving in America. Getting lost and being found by a wealthy New Yorker who loved her very much and who provided everything he possibly could for her should have been a boon but Elizabeth even at such a young age, and throughout her growingup years had flashbacks of life with her parents and her grand parents and a young boy who befriended her years ago. The story of how Elizabeth and the changes that happen so drastically very negative and then very positive makes for an interesting change, especially told over a few decades. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

Set in two time frames 1934 and now the story is a rough and hard one. Dove Jarrod was an evangelist and well loved and revered. Her grand daughter Eve also knows that she was a fraud. History of Dove was a turbulent one, filled with secrets and stories that went back decades. She also collected a lot of enemies over the time, and one of them waited a long time for his revenge, and he did get it when he murdered her. The fact that she was in her 90s covered up for him entirely, and it was passed as a death from natural causes. Eve her grand daughter today has to go through blackmail to protect her memory, and more than that protect her mother who is mentally far too fragile to face any kind of inquisition about her mother. Set in Tuscaloosa the story of a family with a dark past was heavy. The characters seemed vengeful (most of them) but this added to the gothic kind of story. It depicts a part of America which is somewhat different to what one reads of the rest of America (this from an outsiders point of view though). Rather insular, restrictive and protective of its own. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Once We Were Here by Christopher Cosmos

1940 Greece was at a crossroads and when faced by occupation the Greek premier replies with a resounding No. It makes people all over Greece rethink how they are going to live with a German occupation. They know it will happen sooner or later, though the Greeks give as good a fight as they possibly could. Probably the best fight in the whole episode of the War. The story is heart warming - three friends trying to safeguard their homes, their families and their loved ones. Bittersweet because one knows in a war there is always loss and heartache and these people lose not just their people but also their homelands. A story that happens every day even today decades later so history repeating itself. A story told in retrospective so that the present generation would know what went before and what their grand parents had to undergo to come to any kind of safety as immigrants. Immensely moving and powerful it was also full of detail regarding the German occupation of Greece, and the Resistance movement in Greece as well. Sent by Skyhorse Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Murder is in the Air by Frances Brody

1920s Yorkshire is still a rather traditional place. With a view of increasing business, an idea to have a competition for a woman of the area to be a representive of the Yorkshire pubs and ale in particular are put in place. The story is set amongst the brewing industry in Yorkshire and the descriptions of both the lifestyle of not just the owners of these breweries but the actual lives of those who work both in the breweries and in the pubs and the women that support them, added a lot of character to the original story. Kate has been invited by the owner as he is unsettled by recent events at the brewery. His nephew gone on a protracted trip to Europe does not show any sign of returning to take up his position at the brewery and then pubs with a long standing relationship with the brewery cancels their orders. Kate and her assistant Sykes comes in to just look into matters and immediately Sykes picks up on several failings within the brewery including the all important matter of security. Going on from there a series of small events tend to indicate that things are not quite right culminating in the murder of a drayman when matters take a much more serious turn, because now it is not just mischief but murder in play. In a manner of an Agatha Christie story, the detection is slow but methodical and you know Sykes and Kate are not going to be side tracked by other events happening. The focus is on finding out the story and find out they do. The history of the era, and history of the breweries including the setting added so much interest to this story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Duke for Miss. Townbridge by Sophie Barnes

This is just the sort of read needed in between serious suspense thrillers or long winded stories. Sarah and her siblings and her parents are certainly different from other families around them. They do want the girls to get married, but they are not going to push them into the arms of the first personable, rich man that comes their way. But when Matthew, himself a Duke proposes to Sarah in the strangest possible manner, everyone's interest is piqued especially Sarah. She knows this man is different but she wants to know the workings of his mind, before she decides whether he is the one for her. What follows is both light hearted and heart breaking on Matthew's side. Trying to overcome depression and guilt over a sad history in his own life, he knows that winning Sarah will involve love and giving her his heart. Whether he will be able to be clinical over Sarah is the million dollar question. Enjoyed the read very much. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, December 4, 2020

A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

The setting of Westenbury in Yorkshire was glorious, the characters were all spot on hilarious, serious, modern women. The families were complicated - there were yours, mine and ours multiplied over and the story could not be called women's fiction because I think men will enjoy the story too. The ramifications of a village life, the handsome widower now being eyed by many women in the village, he is rich and handsome and also a kind soul. Then there is a bunch of attractive professional women around too. I sometimes felt in the story that it was a little too crowded with characters and got a tad confusing. Overall the story was entertaining and just what anyone needs after a dose of heavy reading. Descriptive and engaging. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

One Goes Missing by M G Karpin

1920s New York was still with very strict rules in place for well to do girls. They could go to college but they were expected to conform to their families traditional way of life. Two young women boarded together one studying music, the other architecture happy as room mates both enjoying a bit of freedom away from the strict attitudes of well connected and rich families. Till one goes missing, then winds up dead. Taking the investigaiton over is Nathaniel Walker, a gentleman investigator for whom private detective work is a passion and something which someone of his wealth will not pursue normally. Painstakingly going over the background and the last few days of this young woman's life he uncovers a whole lot of information which will be very unpalatable to her highly conservative family. From accidentally brushing up against the mob and a moll from the mob, to playing in a speakeasy Nathaniel uncovers a whole plot which ended in a tragic death. Very descriptive of the Jazz Era in New York city, this was an entertaining read. Sent by BooksGo Social for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Death Long Overdue by Eva Gates

Bertie James along with fellow librarians are celebrating a 40th anniversary reunion. What better place to have it than in their old haunt - the Outer Banks Library and her friend Lucy has organised an exhibition of artifacts from libraries past for everyone to see and reminisce. What turns from a lively collection of old friends, turns into a murder investigation when one of their number gets murdered in the adjoining marsh and all of them become suspects. The story goes back decades linking one of their own with a missing diamond necklace and a young man who also went missing at the same time. Now the hunt is on for someone who has murdered twice and also to find the famed necklace. A small town setting, a mystery murder with a bunch of much older women as suspects this was a fun read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Prospects of a Woman by Wendy Voorsanger

1849 America - Elisabeth is a very new bride but she does sense that something is not quite right in her marriage though she cannot put her finger on what is wrong. Coming to the land of gold mining she seeks her father who has a claim on a piece of land which has prospects. Discovering that her father has no intention of a reconciliation but just absconds from them, Nate and she try very hard to scrape out a life from the land. Prospecting as well as any man, if not better Elisabeth faces every adversity life throws at her till she strikes it rich. Finding out her husband was a homosexual was a blow, but it did not make her run away from her home which she had made. Scraping herself out of the pits, she made progress one step at a time in an era where women were totally dependent on men for every little thing. She used Californian laws to her advantage, independently signed up on claims and loans and perplexed men who were not used to independent women of her ilk. She also urged other women in the area to do likewise and not fall under the control of men who only wanted their money. This was a stirring story of courage, endurance and survival. Very very good reading. Sent by She Writes Books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

The description of Miss Fisher meets Downton Abbey sums up the whole character and flavor of this story. Lady Dunbridge, aristocratic escaping from a tyrant father and an abusive husband now dead has arrived to make a new life for herself. Welcomed by New York society who loves the Engish aristocracy she fits in with her new life but when another murder reins her into an investigation she has to try at least to see that justice is served. With a nice mix of murder and mayhem, corruption in the municipalities and police, the mafia and gangs that operate plus a touch of romance amidst the high flyers of New York society this book had a lot of things going to keep everyone interested. I will be looking out for Lady Dunbridge in the future too. Sent by Macmillan Tor Forge for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Lie for a Lie by Julie Corbin

Anna the mother of two and a nurse at the local school has a very good reputation as being professional and empathetic as well. When she is charged with hitting a pupil and when subsequently the pupil is found dead the investigation turns ugly with a town divided as to whether Anna is guilty not just of abuse, but of murder. The implications reach far and wide and little by little stories emerge from the part and role played by both of Anna's children in the story as well as her husband and then it moves on to other people who surround Anna. People whom she has had a loving relationship, people whom she has entrusted her own children to and whom she cannot believe would ever let her down. Like stories of a psychological suspense nature, this story too weaves around what one does not actually see, envisage or imagine about so that the final outcome is always riveting. This did not disappoint. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Millicent Glen's Last Wish by Lori Whitaker

At 91 Millicent seems independent, content and happy. She is also harbouring secrets which she has kept close to her chest for decades. She now thinks it is time to come clean and to try and repair the rather tense relationship she has had from the very beginning with her daughter Jane. Her grand daughter Abbie brings delightful news about a pregnancy and Millicent is drawn back into her own turbulent past. Set in two time frames the past of six decades ago and the present with Jane and Abigail the story runs on parallel lines of how the past and hidden secrets do affect the present. It also speaks of maternal love but the problems of miscommunication and passivity and negativity especially brought about by the morals and what is considered right and wrong by society itself. The story of the three women could be right out of your own family or neighbourhood. Grandmothers getting along beautifully with grand children and not with their own children. Some kind of restraint holding them back. The possibility of talking things through helps in this story but it is not easy to open up after decades of closing a door on certain chapters of your life. This was a rather emotional read and not one to be read in a hurry. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Company's Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

Amsterdam 1616 is not a very pleasant place for a woman especially one who is a servant, with no family and no protection of any kind. Her fortune changes when she becomes a domestic in the service of Master Reynst who along with his daughter Sontje treat Jana as a human being something she is experiencing for the first time in her life. Whilst everything seems to be good Master Reynst falls on hard times due to bad investments and Sontje and Jana embark on an adventure to Batavia (Indonesia) as brides for settlers. (This was a practice even with the British in India). It worked out well for some, not so well for others. The story of The Company's Daughters takes us through Jana and Sontje's lives - one in deep unhappiness and abuse, the other a loveless marriage but someone who was kinder. Jana survives the marriage and goes on to make a surprising life for herself and for the community she finds herself amongst. The story is descriptive of life both in Amsterdam and Batavia at the times. The hardship faced by people in Europe as well as the settlers who had to adapt to a different lifestyle, culture, weather were very well detailed and provided such an interesting read. Historically full of detail this is a must read for those who like history with a colonial flavour. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Flame Within by Liz Harris

1923 London is not for the faint hearted. It is hard trying to upgrade yourself as a woman and Alice from the time she was a young teenager was determined to better herself. Coming from Lancashire where the only occupation was either to work in a factory or in domestic service, she was determined to better herself and move out of the stifling, tradition bound village she was born into. Alice did that admirably over a period of time, becoming a fully fledged nurse and then working with the disabled after the War. Meeting Thomas Linford and marrying him was an additional bonus because they were very much in love. Despite being from a lower social class, Alice was accepted by the Linford family but due to bitterness and anger hidden in Thomas the love she had for him slowly began to drain away leaving her open to her brother in laws advances. When the affair blew wide apart Alice was thrown out by her husband and had to start all over again in Lancashire. This was not for long and she soon found herself wanting to set things right with Thomas whom she felt she still was in love with - she needed to know which way to go and with this in mind found another job in London. Alice story, more than her own was a lesson in how to survive and how if you are determined to, you can change the circumstances of your life and get what you want. This had a happily ever after but it was so much more than that. Alice was a gritty, level headed person who did not allow one failure on her part to bring her down. Sent by Books Go Social courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Candlelit Menagerie by Caraline Brown

Lillian was a misfit for 18th century England. Freakishly tall, only wanting to wear breeches, cut her hair short like a boy Lillian was not transgender but just different. Finding her way to a a owner of a menagerie of animals (all exotic at the time) she found her niche and was for the first time happy. The animals loved her and it seemed almost as if she was a whisperer to them. She kept an eye out for their welfare and knew that the owner could not mistreat his animals with her in charge. Love also found its way into Lillians life and when subsequently she conceives and bears a child who dies Lillian is heartbroken. When given a baby chimp to mother and care for, Lillian finds a substitute in the baby whom she looks after, nurses and cares for as her own. The story finds its way to the Prince of Wales own menagerie owner who is curious about this strange woman. The story winds its way from London to Brighton to the Prince of Wales own zoo he wants to set up but over riding it all is Lillian's deep love for the animals in her care, irrespective of their being exotic or expensive. The story is not just about the exotic animals that were so attractive to the British, but also about the history at the time in London including the executions at the Tower. The story of Lillian finding love and contentment in her marriage was another dimension to the story. Sent by Skyhorse Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

For Letter or Worse by Vivian Conroy (Stationery Shop Series)

This is part of the Stationery Shop series but I think you can come into this book as a stand alone. Delta Douglas has achieved her dream of owing a paper goods shop in a small town and is very happy with her work. Being offered a workshop at a socialite's birthday party did not really fit in with the celebrities and people who were the invitees but Delta and her partner Hazel were very happy to be invited. They did not expect the birthday girl to be threatened and for the police to arrive and a murder to take place when the police were actually present on the premises! In a typical cosy mystery style, the story develops from there with missing items from a museum, missing husbands and daughters set amidst the gossipy ladies of a small town who seem to know everyone's business before they know it themselves. No secrets can be kept in this town. This was a light hearted mystery murder read, which was ideal reading material in the present pandemic. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber (Verity Hunt mystery)

The period after World War One was unsettling. Verity Kent just returned after an arduous stint across Europe and happily reunited with her husband is finally at peace that he is safe. This is short lived however. The intrigue and machinations of the War does not seem to want to let go and she is unwittingly drawn first into a family intrigue involving her aunt, and then on to a wider scope of murder and intrigue. As in the past Verity has to face many obstacles, many people who do not know how clever she is at the same game and dismiss her as a fashionable piece of fluff. Her value is immense and her powers of observation and skill in deduction is huge and she leaves the opposition far behind. With her husband by her side they sort out the mess left by several seemingly natural deaths and deal with the aftermath. Set in beautiful countryside which is equally enticing to read about and a lifestyle which is fashionable and almost aristocratic, this was another excellent story from this author. Sent by Kensington Books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Silver Baron's Wife by Donna Baier Stein

Lizzie Tabor was no shrinking violet despite being born in the 1850s. She did not follow the conventions of the day. When her husband sank into despondency, drinking and drugs refusing to work or make something of their lives, she herself did the unthinkable. She got into the mines with the men working to salvage whatever she could to make a life for herself. When Harvey turned out to be a total disappointment, she divorced him. That too was unheard of and got her ostracized from society almost completely. When she remarried a wealthy silver baron this time she gained further notoriety (the priest refused to sign the marriage certificate despite formalising the marriage)and battled it alone, with the loving support of her husband. When their world of wealth came crashing down, she lost everything she had. She also had two daughters who were spoilt and who could not and would not accept the riches to rags story their life had become. She was alone once more when her husband died. And she remained alone, almost forgotton by all especially her daughters for thirty five years until she died. A story of a courageous woman, who defied convention and based on a real life story. Sad but true one. The book was sent by Serving House Books courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

No More Secrets by Joanne Guidoccio

Angelica is ill and at the end of her life. She has three nieces whom she is close to and she also knows that each of them is harbouring a secret, some of which are sad and which cannot be openly discussed. She invites them all to a weekend at her home, knowing that this will be the last one she has, and hoping for a settlement both in her mind and her nieces that she has done the best she has for them. She herself has secrets, which she had hoped to carry to the grave but she now knows that talking about her own will help her girls to unburden themselves. The weekend starts out badly. Each niece has a difficult temperament and one particularly is bossy. She also wants to portray her life as picture perfect and when her Aunt starts her story she is alternately shocked and delighted at the news. One by one each niece tells her hidden story, and a definitely a rapport and peace is established. More than just secrets the story is about being a woman whether it was a hundred years ago or today. The hardships, the strengths you have to dig out to keep on going and the need to survive society's quips and barbs. Most importantly the strength of being united as a family. This was sent to me by Backlit PR courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review. Thank you.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy by Regina Jeffers (very different variation)

I like Jane Austen variations and I like to read them as a change from the normal genres I read which need a bit more concentration. Right now with coronovirus taking such turns in our country, I thought this was a good choice for me. Boy was I wrong. It was nothing like the other off shoots of a Jane Austen story. Starting with Darcy and Elizabeth only we find them on a cousin's house trying to sort out his estate which responsibility fell to Darcy as a beneficiary. Samuel Darcy has been killed, buried and then his corpse has disappeared. Add to this very strange domestic servants, lots of signs of witchcraft, financial misdealings and then the discovery of not one but several bodies in a row add to the stories general mayhem. When Elizabeth is almost killed by one antagonist, the game steps up and Darcy along with his cousin the Colonel is at their wits end to find out the reasons for the killings which have rocked this tiny village. Completely different from other JA variations, this was a strange but good read. Lots of strands to bring together and the author brings it all home very well. The book was sent to me courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of it being Independently Published and forwarded to me.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Murder in the Piazza by Jen Collins Moore

Maggie is in Rome working for a tour agency which specializes in everything cultural and specifically painting. Her husband works there and rather than join the expat crowd who socialize and gossip she feels she ought to do something. When her boss is found murdered at her desk Maggie is immediately fired up trying to find answers and solve the crime herself. She is rather impetuous and first does something and then thinks of the repercussions later. When she discovers the Italian police side stepping the issue and closing the investigation before it even begins she decides to take things in to her own hands - rather rashly. Despite warnings from several others, to mind her own business she goes into the case and when another death happens, one of her group actually, it begins to hit home that this is not just a personal vendetta but something bigger. Unravelling it is complicated, the murderer is well hidden and all the apparent clues of forgery, drug handling, money laundering are all put aside when the final outcome is reached. I did not much care for Maggie's style or her manner of work but the story was a good one, the setting and descriptions were very readable. Sent by Level Best Books courtesy of Netgalley for an independent review.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Borgia's Spy by Andrea Frediani

The story may appeal to those who like historical fiction, particularly that section of history involving the Borgias. At every turn the Borgias generally throw up some interesting tidbit hitherto unknown and this adds to the general interest in the family. 1497 Pope Alexander VI in power and surrounded by acolytes all of his own choosing. When one of his own gets murdered and the suspect is a court painter all hell breaks loose. An intriguing story set amongst the backstabbing and political intrigue of the Vatican at the time. Sent by Aria courtesy Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Before she was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney

Like other readers I thought I was going to read a cozy mystery but ended up with something quite different. Clemmie turns out to another character to make another life for herself. She sails through her entire life with two different identities and everything is very smooth sailing till she unexpectedly gets caught in the activities of a neighbour who incidentally is also have double identities! The story unfolding through a series of unexpected scenarios, with murder being just a part of the story. You root for Clemmie, a hardened campaigner in this game! Sent by Poisoned Pen Press courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli

I invariably end up midway in series and try hard to play catch up. In this case I start with the first in the Gilded Gotham series. 1888 New York City is full of its prejudices and traditions. Genevieve is an unusual case. Her family rich and part of the upper crust, fully support her journalistic ambitions - absolutely different to the rest of tradition encrusted New York society and she finds herself in the middle of the story of the decade. A modern day Robin Hood robbing from the rich and distributing to the poor. When a change in the scenario of murder enters the scene Genevieve begins to suspect that either Robin Hood has become a murderer as well, or there is someone working on the theme to get their own dirty work done. Meeting up with Daniel who is her first suspect of being Robin Hood, uncovers a world of corruption both in the mayor's office as well as with local police. Daniel in turn trying desperately to protect both Genevieve and a friend very dear to him, is caught in the middle of a gang war which erupts over both the corruption enquiries which makes a number of people uncomfortable and the quest to find Robin Hood by Genevieve. Well written, very descriptive of the era and setting which was a story in itself this was a very good read. Sent by Crooked Lane books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Three Mrs. Wrights by Linda Keir

Lark, Jessica and Holly are three successful women. They are bright, professional, well adjusted. What was it that made then go overboard for Jon, Jack or Jonathan Wright all at once. How on earth did the man juggle three relationships keeping all the women happy, one was with three children keeping them happy as well. More than being a sex addict as what is played out at the end, he should be called a master juggler - balancing time, thought, care and affection to three women whilst also managing business/es giving off an image of a successful businessman and he was, and then also being a bigamist so blatantly, so openly it took your breath away. The three women fortunately were strong enough to come out of the whole game of his bested but not beaten. That was the good part of the story for me. They came together to beat him at his own game. hit him where it hurt the most (the finances) and he ended up the loser though like a Sphinx he metamorphised himself again. Not in their worlds fortunately. Very well written, nice characterization, keeping you wanting to know more, this was a good book for me right now in time of a second lockdown. Sent by Lake Union Publishing courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Murder of a Memory by Paul Beattie

I came to this book first which was unfortunate as its part of a triology but I went on reading anyway. Jasper Lewingdon has unfinished business. He cannot put behind him the plot in Albania and those who sent him there and who have now very conveniently forgotton about it and him. Avery Goodchild has information to sell. He has to find who will bid the highest for him. He is aware he is also in the sights of Jasper. Who will hunt him down. An espionage thriller set between Albania, Berlin and settling in London, this was a fast paced read. Sent by BooksGoSocial courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The story is so whimsical you think it is comic, then it becomes tragi comedy, then you get serious stuff thrown in and then you get down to earth stuff so the whole cycle is represented. I would not call it laugh out loud funny but it is quirky definitely. The story is about a bridge, attempted suicide and actual suicide, then it devolves into an apartment viewing, an idiotic hostage situation and then how it is resolved, a family tension on the side between a father and son due to miscommunication more than anything else and it all dovetails neatly. A lot of strange, strong characters somehow mesh. You have to work your way through this story. Sent by Atria Books courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Glass House by Beatrice Colin

Scotland 1912 and two very different women. One is retiring, willing to accept decisions of others on her behalf and though inwardly quite ruffled does nothing about it. The other has had responsibility thrust on her by a reckless or rather feckless husband. She does not shirk from a task however unpleasant it is for the protection of her young daughter mainly and goes forward quite boldly, even in very difficult circumstances. Cicely Pick arrives at Balmarra a run down manor house from India expecting much more. She arrives unannounced and to Antonia the resident and daughter of the house this alone is very suspicious. She knows it is only due to an inheritance issue that brings Cicely here. Despite her initial misgivings Cicely brings a touch of color to Antonia's life and a small spark of rebellion is lit where Antonia feels that she must now make her mark in their small world. The factor of race in Cicely's case with a touch of Indian ancestry plays no small part in the story but it is the descriptiveness of Scotland that entrances one. Together with the story of both sisters in law and their husbands playing another part in the story, this was a very good read. Sent by Flatiron Books courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Nightshade by M I Huie

Livy and Margot became close when they were working in the closed atmosphere of espionage during WWII. Livy did not make friends easily but Margot was special. When Margot disappeared it was presumed she had died in one of the internment camps under Nazi Germany. Suddenly years after the war is over her call sign so very distinct to a good signalsman is received loud and clear indicating she is very much alive. When this is followed days later with a SOS British Intelligence knows they have to do something to get her out. Livy is more than willing to be a pawn in the espionage game, especially since her opening to the Berlin scene would be her former lover Soviet spy Kostin. What unfolds is that things certainly never go to plan and Livy makes the sacrifice to save her friend. This was good writing - into the world of espionage, but also about friendship and survival. Another excellent read about WWII and aspects that we may as civilians not know anything about. Sentby Crooked Lane books courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Sailor from Casablanca by Charline Malaval

18 year old Guillame was out to conquer the world when he set forth on his travels and landed in Casablance. Sadly cut off in his prime by an explosion that was the end and the year was 1940. Fast forward to 2005 and the discovery of a whole lot of love letters leads to the surprising conclusion that Guillame could very well be alive and with one of his many girl friends. Each chapter is told by someone who is trying to unearth the mystery of Guillame but none by himself so that he remains fairly enigmatic throughout. A mix of genres which added to the interest - lots of actual history, then family stories and romance as well. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich

WWI and WWII have given us such a lot of literature from both sides of the Wars and from every angle possible. This is another very good read dealing with the Resistance in France and with a particular emphasis on the Jews in France, trying desperately to look after not just their own French Jews but also lending a hand to those flooding into France seeking refuge before going on to safer shores. Madeline and Claude are young people caught up in the violence and trying their very best to help their fellow men just escape. Madeline has been put in charge of saving children and this is fraught with danger and there is such a lot of emotion involved. The children know that they have lost their parents forever, taken before them brutally and their only hope is to escape. It is a sad story repeated over and over again in stories and each story is never boring, never repetitious as each child or adult facing the Nazis is unique. I am so glad I got to know Madeline Levy through this book though I was sad that her ending was brutal. The grand daughter of Alfred Dreyfus a hero of WWI she and her family were earmarked by the Nazis very early on and their hopes for survival was poor. For those who like history this is a must read. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Best of Friends Lucinda Berry

Three best friends, friends from school are now faced with the worst tragedy one can imagine. The death of one of their boys, and the worst part - was it an accident, was it a murder at the hands of one of the other boys or was it a suicide driven by something that not one of the parents are aware of. Whilst one boy is in a vegetative state, the other is a gibbering mess who will not talk the three families try to make sense of this heedless tragedy at the same time trying hard to give support to each other, whilst harbouring silent, secret doubts that the other person's son is the cause of this tragedy. The families themselves begin to unravel under the relentless pressure of the investigation by the Detectives and their own doubts not just on the other person's son but also their own and how much or how little each of them knew their own child. Instead of drawing closer together in the face of tragedy the parents themselves begin to grow distant from each other when secrets and hidden facets of their personalities begin to emerge under the pressure. All hopes of future happiness dashed faced with losses like this families now face not just children they knew little about, but even their own partners who now seem like strangers. Interesting take on how tragedy can blow families apart and how cracks in a relationship widen into a chasm. Sent by Thomas and Mercer courtesy Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Deadly Hours by Susanna Kearsley, C S Harris, Anna Lee Huber, Christine Trent ( Four novellas)

Four authors seemingly seamlessly collaborate in a series of novellas dove tailing one into the other about a golden watch cursed for some, good for some and the stories that entail all as a result of this looted watch. It is unbelievable how four different authors could write these stories each one bewitching (for want of a better word). I am a fan of all these authors so it was of particular interest to me how they would combine to produce a single story and did they produce one which held my interest from the first page to the last. History, mystery, lives of survival and hope from 1733 Italy to 1831 Edinburgh the stories criss crossed Europe and so many lives. Each life detailed and engrossing and then going on to the next chapter. For those who like historical fiction, this is a must read. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press (thank you) courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Cardiff by the Sea by Joyce Carol Oates (Four novellas)

A collection of four stories - all mystery, suspense genre and all very emotional, a couple of very tense stories. Ranging from an unexpected inheritance and with it an unexpected turbulent past, covered with intrigue and twittering aunts who cover a good deal of information under misinformation and seemingly mindless blabber. A student who falls pregnant for her Professor and then a young boy who survives his mothers suicide and murder of a sister and a friendless girl only befriended by a cat hounded by a step father whose interest isn't healthy and a mother whose loyalties are torn. They were not calming stories to read right now, and right now I need something less somber. They were good stories very well told, not their fault that my mood is awry. Sent by Grove Atlantic courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Stepdaughter by Georgina Cross (Good detective work)

A stepmother has a tightrope to walk. She can never do enough it seems and in this case it was a case of doing a hell of a lot and then looking away for just a few minutes. Mia is a very talented swimmer and her stepmother is a caring woman but Mia does not seem to appreciate all that she does. Recently Mia seems distracted and out of sorts and it is put down to teen angst. When Mia goes missing in a matter of a few minutes, Detectives in charge of the case look squarely at the stepmother. Unravelling the mystery of how a girl could go missing from her own backyard sets up a story that is plausible and at the same time unbelievable keeping you tense as you first suspect the stepmother, then the father, then the swimming coach and once all of them get eliminated the secrets the family is hiding slowly unravel to disclose the actual suspect and why they acted the way they do. How a secret can impact on so many lives, the way they impact, the consequences of actions all spiral way out of control to sad results. Mia's body is eventually found and then it becomes not just kidnapping but a murder investigation. The story is chilling and holds all the elements of a good mystery/thriller. Sent by Bookouture courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Death Comes but Twice by David Field

1893 England great strides are being made in the field of forensic science. The art of finger printing as an aid to assisting forensics is in the baby stages but getting support from all. Dr Carlyle and his daughter are working in the morgue trying to find out as much as possible about a murderer who has now died twice! Adelaide is herself a pioneer as a woman in the field is unique. On another note, she is hoping to put herself forward as a candidate for the local elections and this again has created waves because women are now only able to vote, and that too only if they own property in their own right. The story of Adelaide, and the elections and the on off romance with Pastor Matthew West is one story and the other is the investigation into how and why Skuja was apparently hanged, did not die but died again later in a murder incident. Who helped Skuja to escape the hangman's noose and when it is slowly revealed that bigger names are involved the plot widens and becomes more complicated by the day. Old fashioned detection work but thoroughly enjoyable as the setting is old English style. A touch of romance adds interest too. Sent by Sapere Books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Wolves of Venice by Alex Connor

16th century Venice. The contrast between the rich of Venice and the life of Jews in the ghetto is startling and brutal. There is also a hidden society in Venice. Those on the fringe of the very rich serving them as a matter of survival but inwardly hating their way of life and what they stand for, but with no choice in the matter. We have Arettino and Baptista are two of the biggest controllers of all that goes on in Venice. Using the art of blackmail, they squeeze as much as possible out of the rich and famous, all of whom have secrets they have to keep. Having done as much harm as possible to Jacopo, they now go after the son Marco and in turn to hurt him hit out at those closest to him. Rosella and her brother the clever Doctor Tarbat looked upto even in Venetian circles are drawn into this tight net and ultimate end up paying with their lives. The Wolves of Venice show the lascivious, and the corrupt belly of Venice leaving aside the arts and the beauty of Venice aside. Not a very pleasant, uplifting read because we only associate Venice with much beauty but a side we would like to ignore. A intriguing story. Sent by Aria courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Scotland to Shalimar by Bryony Hill (memoirs of British Raj India)

I am a fan of colonial literature - the memoirs, the experiences which can never be repeated and all the fanfare that went with it. Of course the positives on the British side are balanced by the negatives where the natives were oppressed, cheated and penalised at every turn. This story is full of memorablia, of history in spades in families of all the connections made and unmade, a few scandals and general life in India during the time of the British Raj. The day to day life, the fear of illness, of climate, the danger to women in childbirth, the high rate of infant mortality, the necessity heart breakingly to send children back to England for education and their safety and the loneliness on both sides of families torn apart. An interesting tidbit here were the recipes - the making do and making of what was known and traditional to the Britishers who tried very hard to follow what they knew best. This was ideal reading after a diet of murders and mysteries galore. Sent by Red Door Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Hanged Man by Andree Rushton

The dream of many would be to own their little holiday home somewhere. This is what these friends did. Castignac in the South West of France was their personal idyll - their hopes of renovating, decorating and enjoying their own place. When one of their number was inexplicably killed - falling off a decrepit staircase in an abandoned farmhouse building it dampened the spirits of all. Almost unanimously they decided to sell but with this hanging over their heads they knew the sale will not happen quickly. Tessa however was not keen to sell. She felt that the farmhouse had untold secrets and she set about trying to uncover them. This was without the support of the others who felt that it was better to keep past histories closed. The stories going back in flashbacks to WWII, the Resistance, the boys of the village who fought in the war, and the one who was the deserter are all retold in this story bringing back the tragedy of young deaths to the fore. There is a lot of history that is retold in this story, the significance of the orchid which resembles a Hanged Man was for me not really relevant and Tessa was at times too intrusive and almost bullying in pursuit of news. The storyline however delving into both Wars and the reminiscences and memories of a generation past are very well told. Sent by the Book Guild for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Quiet Wife by L G Dickson

Epitomizing a wife who has always put her husband's needs and demands first Sheila has just retired from a job she loved and which she excelled at. She looks forward to a retirement as her husband has also scheduled his own retirement around hers. They had planned to spend more time at their property in France and had several ideas in the pipeline. All Sheila's dreams go up in smoke when she realises that John has no intention of keeping to his promise of retirement and that life for him is even busier than ever. He, like always seems to only hear what he wants to hear so that any complaint of which there are very few from Sheila's side is brushed aside as if of no importance. Sheila starts looking at other things which she is interested in and one is a History group but at home she is being swept into a scheme of baby sitting her grandson without a by your leave even, on a joint effort of both her husband and her daughter Caitlin. It is almost a passive bullying tactic which makes Sheila begin to realise that she has to assert herself or go under. A pleasant reminder that life does not end at retirement and that you are never too old to stand up for yourself even in a marriage of over forty years! Not being taken for granted is very important and this highlights this. Sent by Troubadour Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland

Hannah works for an NGO in Alleppo with her partner Oskar a Swede. An American who also holds a Syrian passport on account of her father being Syrian, Hannah is right now in a vulnerable position as everyone is trying to get out of Syria as tensions and conflicts mount. Caught up in an accident and ending in hospital Oskar is now immobile and in the hands of Dr. Sami a surgeon who is desperately trying to help the average man on the street and one of the few not affiliated to any side. He is walking a tightrope because he knows several members of his family are working against the regime and his one fear is that he and his family will get embroiled in the circuitous revenge which is paramount in Syria. The story of Dr. Sami inextricably linked with Hannah who does not not know what should be filtered in conversation or not, speaking out what she considers the truth, sets off a chain of events which lead to murder and mayhem and which sadly at the end amount to nothing because it was the wrong end of the stick. The reader is saddened at the un necessary loss of life, the constant pursuit of a so called murderer, the pursuit of revenge, a life for a life which hounds Dr. Sami despite all his intentions to do good to all who seek his help. The personal against the general war is pictured very well in this story for it atrocities are very well known. The various factions and intra wars between groups may get confusing but the general idea of mayhem, absolute destruction and no value for human life is very apparent. Sent by Blackstone Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan (must read if you like historical fiction)

The London Restoration ticked off many boxes for me and I was delighted with the read. There was history in spades, archaelogy, nice ancient churches and a touch of romance with lots of mystery as well. The story set in post WWII deals with a couple, both returning from the War with secrets to hide. Diana wants to get back to married life with Brent the love of her life but her signing of the Official Secrets Act and her involvement post WWII puts paid to that. Brent has to put up with a wall of silence as to what his wife did, and what she continues to do and obviously with a degree of danger. Diana is in love with churches and particularly those built by Christopher Wren and when the churches are linked to an espionage network, she becomes the obvious candidate who can decode the mystery and uncover the mole. Balancing a fragile marriage despite a lot of love on both sides is hard when so many secrets cannot be told and Brent and Diana have to reach far inside themselves to trust their partners that things will eventually work out. The story throws another aspect of WWII ( perspectives and stories are endless and imaginative always) and this was no exception. Excellent reading. Sent by Thomas Nelson - FICTION for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams (idyllic setting)

Lucy has been a doctor with Medicine without Borders serving in one of the most conflict associated areas in Africa. Escaping literally at the last minute and under fire, she wants a period of recuperation and rest away from any turmoil. After a short stay with her family she goes to the South of Italy to stay with old friends and there come to a decision regarding the rest of her working life. It was an idyllic setting and when an offer of a job came in a most exclusive hospital serving the rich, the famous and celebrities it was a question of her ethical sense. Whether her hard won skills were best served by saving the lives of the rich or whether she should continue with her work with the poor. Finding love was also not on the cards but it found her and Lucy had to decide which way her life was going to take. This was a light hearted read, set in beautiful country with with very descriptive places and settings. I enjoyed the story. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Friends for sometime, with a common thread of young children amongst them, they meet up for play dates, at the school gates, for a coffee on a casual basis but the relationship builds slowly and you think you know them. Mothers and their relationships with their children are a secret group here. No one can fathom how the other will react in a certain scenario, though you think you know each one. The calm, collected stay at home mother, meticulous about schedules, hygiene, method. The career mother who is trying to balance double and triple lives and hoping it will all work out well. The careless, couldnt care less mother who actually abuses her children but for the solidarity of her children who do not rat on her, carries her secret with her after causing untold anguish to her offspring. This was a telling, an emotional read for all women. For whatever reason who cannot express their feelings, their inadequacies and when an incident as what happened here does occur, goes on a trip of one lie covering another and another till it becomes a web of deceit leading to untold misery for all. A very good read, characterization of different women portraying modern day mothers very well done. Holds your interest throughout. Sent by Atria for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Murder at Kingscote by Alyssa Maxwell (1889 Newport US)

1899 Newport genteel and with very rigid demarcations of society. Emma is not part of famous Four Hundred families and hence though on the fringes related to everyone is not quite accepted as being within the famed group. It does not bother Emma who has now landed the position of Editor in chief of the Messenger but it does affect her marital chances with someone whom she has fallen in love with. An automobile parade is a highlight of the summer events, but a death seems to uncover a string of suspects, hidden histories and past events which everyone is trying very hard to conceal. The blame seems to fall on young Philip King a notable young man prone to gambling debts and a very likely suspect in the first murder. For the sake of his mother Emma along with the help of Douglas the owner of the paper who is also the man she is in love with, pursue various avenues trying to find out who could want the butler dead. Past incidents with long histories of animosity and revenge surface and now there are multiple suspects all have to be researched and eliminated to come to the truth. The mystery murder was one story, but the social setting of 1989 Newport was the one which I liked very much. Reveals a world stepping into the modern era but with strong holds to tradition sometimes hidebound tradition and customs which surely must be eliminated. Interesting social history reading. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Talland House by Maggie Humm (shades of Virginia Woolf here)

London 1919. Lily is a very mixed up woman. Torn between her love for her tutor Louis and then her love for the lady whom she considers a mother Mrs. Ramsay, she is heartbroken to overhear that her half done portrait of the lady is not pleasing to her. For Lily has put her heart and soul into this painting and this almost destroys her. The story with its strong connections To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf draws its world from St Ives in Cornwall and London and the ten missing years of the story. Lily Briscoe was very much part of the Woolf scene visiting the Isle of Skye before the War, then during the War and then after the War returning to Skye after the death of Mrs. Ramsay. The feeling of such a close connection between Lily and Mrs. Ramsay - almost spiritual despite the aggressiveness of the Mr. Ramsay in the story. Lily's unfortunate love for Louis which was never reciprocated because as she discovered at the very end that he was gay are very well enumerated in the story. The book mixes historical fiction, as well as actual history with a lot of imagination and combines all the elements to give you a very factual story. Sent by She Writes Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Girl from Vichy by Andie Newton (1947 era occupied France)

1942 occupied France is not a good place for a patriot. There are the Nazis and then there are Petain supporters even more dangerous than the Germans. They could be anyone and everyone around you. You never knew when someone had turned, for whatever reason. It could even be your sister. Adele is a courageous young woman, trying to live an independent life but finding it hard. Her marriage has been promoted by her father for strategic if no other reason, her mother finds it abhorrent but is helpless, her sister is all for it as it promotes both her and her husband's well being in the current political climate but Adele is looking for a way out. Escaping to a convent, acting as a postulant, getting embroiled in Resistance activities and then finding love and consolation in the arms of another is good. Having to return to her former fiancée and pretend to be in love with him and then go on planning a wedding with him is very hard for anyone and for Adele it is the breaking point in her work for the Resistance and for herself as well. The extent to which people work for the love of their country, never mind their own loves is boundless and inexplicable. To sacrifice all for love of country has happened countless times and will happen again and again and it is a huge sacrifice. This is that story. Part history, with threads of a love story as well and a family striving to survive amidst so many threats. Sent by Aria for an independent review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hidden Lake by Ruhi Choudary (small time politics/police)

Mackenzie is the Detective in smalltime Lakemore. She is known for being rather reserved, not much of a mixer and this does not bode well when one is part of a team. Right now Lakemore is facing their biggest unsolved crime - an abduction of a young woman daughter of one of the founding fathers of the town as it were, and a very big cheese both for the town and everyone else. Finding Erica is top priority, and when one year exactly on the date of her abduction another girl coincidentally her best friend disappears the town is galvanized into action. Something has to be done and fast. The second girl is a nobody, and the action is slow but when Erica's body is discovered a couple of days after the second girl's abduction, Mackenzie and everyone on her team knows that time is running out for Abby. Further enquiries uncover that during September of the two previous years, two girls were also reported missing and through very convenient channels, the files got buried, misrepresented and forgotton. Now four girls are missing and the onus is on the detectives to discover who is responsible. A bizarre finding of a few clues leads them to all the leading citizens of the county and the head is very very reluctant to allow for even questioning let alone arrest. How the detectives are going to go ahead with this elite few is the question facing them. Especially since everyone is in awe to them, obliged to them for their jobs and even the whole town is dependant on them for their living. Corruption found in police and politics abound everywhere. Magnified here. How do you get around it and still do your job to the best of your ability is the problem. Nice police work, small town politics, corruption all found in this story. Captivating reading. Sent by Bookouture for an honest review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (post Partition India)

This encapsulated everything I like in books - history, family saga, mystery, detective, a touch of geography and politics of the glass ceiling. All hot topics for me. The story set in post partition Bombay involves Persis a Parsi (tiny minority in India and in the world actually) eloquent, educated and determined to hold her own in a terribly male dominated profession - the police force in India. The only and first female detective in India but one who has to fight every step of the way to get recognition from her peers, from her superiors and even the public whom she tries to help. A murder of a English diplomat at the height of a dinner party despite lots of people around, security, his personal servants etc and no one saw or heard anything. The victim was found minus his trousers which added to the mystery and Persis and her team are put in charge of the investigation. Mainly with the reason that if the investigation falls flat, the blame will squarely fall on her shoulders and those of her precinct, all of whom other than her have come there as a result of what is usually called a "punishment transfer" for some misdeed done. Her colleagues all have a chip on their shoulder and some of them are out gunning for her, not liking her status, her position and her confidence. Going back and forth from the victim's mansion and his coterie of domestics to the far outskirts of Amritsar and the Punjab and coming back again the story winds around with a sad ending. Not the ending that was envisaged but one which sought to cover political ills in a system and one where everyone came smelling of roses. Persis is not happy but she cannot endanger the careers of many with her wanting to speak out the truth. A fine enactment of what happens everyday in most countries even today. I loved the setting, the detailed history of the antagonism which exists and which politicians try to play down, the insistence on one's community, religion and caste so important in not just India but many Asian countries and the deep rooted hatred built up over centuries sometimes not understood by those outside these realms. Beautifully written about and fascinating reading. This was a real winner for me. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Nidderdale Murders by J R Ellis (idyllic setting!)

A Yorkshire Murder Mystery - that is the description and certainly more than the murder or the mystery or the detective work, the Yorkshire dales are so beautifully described in this book that anyone will want to go right now see what it is all about. The names of the villages themselves are enchanting and add to the mystery of this story. Add a detective that loves poetry and the dales, a mix of very realistic village folk, cautious with "in comers" and everyone who loves a pint the story is very good reading. One murder at point blank range, the murderer almost wanting to be recognized as so and so and then the murderer disappears. No one knows where he lived, though he worked for many as an odd job man and gardener - the victim was obnoxious and disliked but tolerated because he spent quite a bit around the village (though never paid his bills on time). When a second murder happens in the same manner, where the murderer faces a witness so that he will be identified Detective Oldroyd knows that there is something much more than meets the eye. Good detective work, plodding book work connects the dots and how revenge is really served cold in this case. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Publishing UK.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Quiet Girl by S F Kosa

Still unable to upload the picture of this book! Alex returns home after a spat with his new wife and discovers her missing. Her rings are in a wineglass and that's that. The police treat it as a person who wants to be missing and do not take his pleas seriously. The story begins to unravel at that point. Alex has not met his parents in law other than on a single occasion. He knows that his wife is not on good terms with them but they are his last resort to find out any clues as to what has happened to her. Meeting them and feeling the tensions and hidden stories behind their steely façade, Alex knows there is more than meets the eye and it is somehow connected to his wife's disappearance. The story of Layla is running parallel to Mina's story and one is definitely linked to the other. How Alex has to work to unravel the mystery of his wife's past and somehow find her is this story. The book was good but meandered a bit to the point that it became rambling and it was difficult for me to fix events and how they connected. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant

The story is told in two time frames. 1538 and 2019 five centuries apart. The story which we read in present times is an eerie similarity to what went on five centuries before and you do kind of think that there is much more to life than what actually meets the eye. Saffron Hall is a crumbling manor house lived in by Amber's grandfather. Amber after a miscarriage almost at the end of a normal pregnancy has fled to her family home as she cannot bear to live in the house with her husband who is also grieving but who seems to be able to cope better with the emotional trauma of this loss. Amber's reason for being there at Saffron Hall is to deal with the enormous collection of books that are lying around, to archive it and to bring it to some sense of order. Discovering an ancient manuscript when one tower of the Hall comes down, reveals a story that Amber feels compelled to follow. She feels that Eleanor is trying to tell her a story about the child she carried which died, and which was never properly buried. Trying to unravel this piece of history and bring it to completion is what Amber feels will also bring peace to herself and a reconciliation with her husband. Till this is resolved, she is determined not to leave Saffron Hall. The story alternating between two centuries is a poignant one in both time frames. Both Eleanor and Saffron suffered immensely from their loss and both had to come to peace before they could move forward. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

Very atmospheric from the word go, Rose and Dylan with their little son are returning home from tumultuous Somalia after a long exile away from home. Home is Dylan's ancestral pile in the quiet village of Hurtford. The house is eerie, sitting on a hill and the Kynaston name alone is spoken about with derision, scorn and disdain. Rose is unaware of the tension surrounding her husband's family until she actually arrives in the home to find Gwendoline - Dylan's mother herself eccentric, displaying all the characteristics of dementia but is not acknowledged by her son to actually be a danger to anyone. To the outsider Rose, there are lots of things very wrong both with Gwendoline and the house but Dylan persists in being blind to all this. The scandal attached to Dylan's father persists despite there being no proof at all (case dismissed) but it is not a happy situation at all. Rose is fighting blind an enemy that she does not know or even can perceive, and when human remains are discovered the entire old scandal is reopened like a festering wound and it is upto Rose to protect herself and her son even against her husband who is now a prime suspect in a murder investigation. The whole village of Hurtford itself added to the suspense of the story as it seemed as if small time villages have very long memories and thirty years is a mere few days in people's memory. It does not fade with time nor is it allowed to do so and it is kept very much alive - the animosity and hatred particularly. This was a good read with a lot to ponder over - how family ties, loyalty to a clan to a village can sometimes be too much of a good thing! Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The House at Mermaid's Cove by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (WWII setting)

Another story with a World War II background set between the coasts of Cornwall, scenes of quiet rural life with hidden secrets and then moving across to France and all the turmoil there with German occupation. Alice is a survivor of a ship torpedoed by the Germans and washed up on the Cornish coast. With her shorn hair and secretive speech, her rescuer knows that there are secrets behind the façade of the washed out, exhausted woman found at his doorstep. When her life story is told which in itself is intriguing (a convent in Africa, a questioning of faith, an idea of leaving the strict no feelings to be shown policy of the convent) and with her knowledge of French, Alice becomes a key person in the permanent quest of finding people who can infiltrate the French coast and bring back airmen and others who need to get back to England. Following her adventures both in and out of France at great personal risk to herself and reading about her life in the convent in Africa, both the highs and lows - you can see how far the church has come since those difficult times of strict laws, and rules and nothing else. It was a tough time for anyone who chose a vocation unless you were devoid of any natural feelings. The story of survival, of faith, and finally of a peaceful end and love finding a way is all told in this imaginative story. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Lighthouse by P D James

I am going to the pile of books unread at home and picking up one at a time. The first is an all time favourite P D James. I love her style of writing, formal, precise and so very informative. All in one sentence. The feeling conveyed in a sentence is so good that nothing is superfluous. Never get tired of reading her books. The Lighthouse set on Coombe Island is a isolated place. It serves as a resort for those "captains of industry" or politicians who need a quiet, restful place to recuperate and relax, free from the intrusions of modern life. It did not prove to be so for Oliver Nathan, a cantankerous author who from several accounts was described as evil. His murder set in motion a series of events starting with Detectives from Scotland Yard arriving on the island and with a second murder, an episode of SARS, it soon racked up the tensions on this small island with just a few people. Uncovering a history that went back decades in the lives of those who were on the island, not just islanders as such of whom there were only a couple but the lives of those who were on the island at the time of the murder showed that coincidences is not acceptable when it comes to murder. On an island with such a few inhabitants even the lives of the detectives - just three of them mesh in a way that does not happen in a more "open" environment. This added another dimension to the story. This was a gorgeous read, I can see myself reading it again in a year or two.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg

The saga of Blogger not allowing me to paste the picture of the book continues. Sigh! Unusual memoir. At 36 the author finds herself (presently for descriptive purposes only) married and with a small baby. Happy in her marriage, financially stable, happy with her domesticity as well. Called up for jury duty Molly finds herself hopelessly and irrevocably attracted to Nora a lawyer and she cannot get her out of her mind. It is not a momentary feeling of lust but one that seems to take over Molly's entire thought process. The story proceeds how Molly (and her husband) have to handle this new intrusion in their life, come to terms with it (which they do), and proceed with their separate lives, causing as little disruption to the lives of their child and those around them. It seems all very civilized, a minimal amount of heartbreak over a failure of a marriage but it seems a bit strange all the same. It is a memoir which feels like a bit of therapy is going on with the writing itself, expunging itself as it were and on the other hand gives a clearer perspective of how harsh it is to have a gender identity crisis at the age of 36. Unusual reading, got me thinking. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Abrams Press.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Wife's Choice by Emma Davies

Divided into three segments of the past, present and future Alys quiet life - controlled and more than controlled manipulated very quietly by her unassuming husband Hugh - is about to take a nose dive. Alys is made redundant - the manner in which it was done was surreptitious (Hugh her husband is her boss too). He never mentioned it to hr earlier, she was just given her notice at the end of the day in an envelope with no fair warning. The fact that Alys just took it like a doormat was irritating. But Hugh had a habit of turning any conversation to the way he wanted it to be and for sake of peace and their daughter Esme let it ride. When Esme gets a job of her dreams in The Green Cafe, one that has a stellar reputation Hugh is miffed, Alys is elated till she one day meets up with the co owner Sam who incidentally happened to be her ex husband from whom she separated under very tragic circumstances. The story actually evolves from there - the path that Alys must take, the secrets that have to be told, the ugly truth of what happened twenty three years ago all revealed and then Alys must decide what she wants to do with her life even in the mid fifties better late than never. A story of a very late blossoming, of facing facts full on, unpalatable and earth shaking as they may be. A lovely story which I enjoyed reading tremendously. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Bookouture. PS still not resolved the picture issue here.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Pearl River Mansion by Richard Schwarz

We have a list of very strong characters in this book. Joan is a very powerful woman, used to getting her own way. Tyler her son and heir knows that his mother will only give anything if there are conditions attached and all are in some way or the other beneficial to her. Sarah his wife, impressed by the family wealth (she comes from very humble background) and then there are the twins Cody and Rachel. The story set in the South at a time of racial inequality is reflected in this book and it is at times disturbing and makes one aware of how hard it was for the average American black man to live or even to survive unless he toed the line and did everything that was expected of him by his white neighbours or his boss. The story of Joan Chandler, the control she had over her domestics, her grandchildren and the manipulative way she went to circumvent justice, just to get her own way in obtaining sole custody of her grand daughter were beyond imagination. The detectives in charge of the case saw it as an open and shut case. It was the determination of a private investigator instructed by a sister who knew that her father's absence was no missing runaway but that it hid a deeper secret and who pursued her belief that uncovered the whole sorry mess. Complicated, and a family saga this was a long story but it did hold my interest throughout. Sent by Mascot Books via Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds

A little girl is abducted whilst playing with her friend, the two mothers are chatting just there. It is in broad daylight and very bold. There is a difference however, this little girl is returned unharmed physically 92 days later. Slightly different to other child kidnappings we hear about.

The family of course are the first suspects - the mother on the road to ruin by drink, the father does not know what to do to keep the family together, at the same time having a long term affair with the lady next door, both spouses know of their partners infidelity and do not want to bring it into the open and we have the children involved who are the victims here.

Fast forward twenty years and a similar case crops up and now detectives ponder whether the man serving the prison sentence is innocent. Is this a copycat case or is someone just continuing the work started twenty years ago. Eleven little girls missing, some found, some not all dressed in the same way when found eerily similar.

The story goes in chapter form from one character to another - each of their stories is a story in itself and all center around Holly's abduction and return. The actual links appear very slowly and only at the end.

A different kind of mystery story.

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

On another note reading vintage classics is turning out to be rather fun. As an alternative kind of read to the mystery or suspense stories of present times, these rather slower books are catching my fancy big time.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Can one hide a love affair for 28 years. Mallory and Jake have done just that. Jake is now married, with a family. He comes every weekend just one weekend mind you to live with Mallory and he has done that for 28 years unknown to his friends, to Mallory's own family and to his own wife. The circle is close, they are all known to each other and one thinks what is the love that binds Jake to Mallory but that is not sufficient for him to actually leave his wife (now a US Senator) and an aspiring Presidential candidate to boot. The story set in Nantucket in a quiet town and then going back and forth over the lives of each character appearing now in one city and then the next, the cross referencing between all of them and underneath it all the thread of Mallory and Jake's love story. Very poignant, sad and emotional this was inevitably a sad story of a different kind of love story. It has to end it cannot continue - one begins to feel that from midway through the story. This is one of the author's best ever books. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

Bridget and Will have a relationship which is close, intimate friends but nothing more. It is something that is platonic but very deep rooted. Bridget is with her head in the clouds on most practical things and would drive most people nuts! she is lucky her children see the goodness in her beyond the slightly scatty behaviour! Bridget has also got a egoistic father Edward who is famous and at 94 thinking of embarking on marriage (on a big scale at that). Bridget has also just been dumped in the most appalling fashion by her lover and Will has just fallen head over heels in love with Emma in the most unexpected of places (in the small village lives) Will is not a village type! Bridget and Will are musicians part of a trio. The third party has now led them down and Will has now approached Gavin a former member of the trio to rejoin them without running it by Bridget who has a history with Gavin, unknown to Will and when she does unveil the secret it catches all of them unaware of the repercussions. Slightly muddled, absolutely fascinating, me wanting to know what new mess everyone has got into because believe me they do. Chaotic and excellent reading. Family loyalty above all lots of love around. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Atria Books. PS If anyone can explain how I can get an image on this post I would be very appreciative.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The President's Dossier by James A. Scott

I dont seem to know how to post a picture of the cover of the book. In this case you are not missing much as its rather drab! The story was not though. Very fast paced and you have to be on your toes to see whether Max Geller is being pursued by M16 the CIA or the Russian Police or the Russian mafia, actually both. The story moves very quickly between one location and the next and seems slightly fantastical to a layman but I suppose this is the way high treason/spying works! Lots of betrayal, a President out for himself (money laundering in a huge manner) do you see the trend and a familiar figure peeking out! Very easy to relate to despite the quick work on the part of all parties involved. Interesting read of this genre to have. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of OceanView Publishing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Poisoned Primrose by Dahlia Donovan

I've not read a book with several murders involving a character who is autistic, asexual and very much part of a community. At 40 Motts has just moved to a quaint village in beautiful Cornwall with her cat and her turtle. She wants a quiet life, to become independent of her parents who hover over her all the time and get on with it.

What Motts did not expect is to find a body buried in her back garden. This was where the murders start. She did not expect to be personally attacked either because she started an enquiry of her own with her eccentric friends in the village, who all had her back but who could not protect her from someone in the village who was determined to put a stop to all the enquiries.

As is usual in villages, there is usually a lot of history in personal quarrels and this was no exception.
A British cozy mystery set in (again) stunning settings of Cornwall, and this time with a very mixed cast of characters, a touch of romance (just starting btw) and probably more to come.

Very fun read.

Sent by Tangled Tree Publishing courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

The series was new to me and I am definitely looking forward to reading more about this particular forensic archaeologist (what a good combination).

The setting was the marshes of Norfolk and it was very evocative of the bleakness, the quietude and the stillness and loneliness that was the marshes. It did not detract from its attractiveness though. It was the ideal setting for a series of kidnapped, missing women and a suspect already in prison. More kidnappings happen and the detectives think there is either a copy cat killing going on or Ivor March is still controlling someone behind the prison walls to dally with the detectives.

Full of suspense and clues going all over the place, the detectives in charge of this case have a lot of personal relationships which may tend to cloud their judgment as well. At the middle of the story, I thought maybe this would affect the case as well as there were histories and tensions which could, but it straightened out anyway.

I found the personal relationships and connections added to the richness of the story, apart from the police procedural work and the history itself of the area. Very well told and full of promise this book was an excellent read.

Sent by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Persistent Marquess by Susan Payne (Regency background)

Our marquess and our debutante are definitely different and not run of the mill people of the period. This is what made the story different.

A lighthearted romance culminating in a marriage brought about by flouting of convention! Nice read which ended very happily and with a touch of sexual play as well.

Good reading.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Study In Murder by Callie Hutton (set in Victorian England)

Lady Amy is a mystery murder author but incognito. Her father would consider it shameful if the word got out because her work is a bit gruesome. It is Victorian England and everything is governed by what will people say, with rigid rules for behavior especially for women. Lady Amy is as it is considered eccentric, a bit on the shelf as it were though she is very young by modern standards.

When her fiancée from whom she has just severed ties, when an anonymous note is delivered to her saying that he is involved in the opium trade, is discovered with a knife sticking out of his chest in her home, in her library - Amy knows that she is coasting dangerously precariously to the wind. The Bow Street runners have no other focus other than that Amy out of a sense of pique murdered the man. On the sidelines is another interested suitor who is more than willing to help Amy despite his doubts on the suitability of a woman doing all this dirty work! Together they uncover step by step the murky details of Vincent's past and how and why his murder happened.

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

A very nice cozy set in Victorian England.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Ringmaster's Daughter by Carla Schabowski (set against Paris 1940)

Paris in the 1940s. A rather frightening place to be especially for those who were "slightly different" even a wee bit. Hitler was on the rise, approaching Paris and anyone who wanted to flee had to do it now.

Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a train housing a circus of all things and when discovered, with his aptitude for being a horse whisperer he is taken on to train a particularly skittish beauty and then tolerated by Werner the owner of the circus, despite his always taking a crack at Michel for no apparent reason.

Going further on the journey, we see that many of the performers hide secrets that they are terrified to reveal - past Resistance, Jews, Roma all enemies of Hitler. They are all fearful for their lives and this story takes on the vista of people on the run fleeing from one small village to another gradually losing their performers who either leave or are taken away by the German Army till finally Michel and Frieda the ringmaster's daughter both flee for America.

A story of a family because the circus becomes their family in the absence of any, and how people survive. A story of loss and sadness but also hope always for something better tomorrow.

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

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Shore House by Heidi Hostetter

There is a house which has held good memories of summers past for the Bennet family and now Kaye wants to recreate the same atmosphere that was there in the past. But the children are grown up now and nothing ever remains the same.

With good intentions two adult children are summoned for a holiday - Stacy and Ryan who is an easy going man with two kids and another on the way. Brad turns up with Iona his partner who from the word go is definitely not in sync with Kaye the matriarch of the family. Stacy and her mother do not really get on well and she needs her brother Brad to run interference. Chase the father is over protected by his wife after a near fatal heart attack and is now allowed any decisions of his own by Kaye. It does not augur well for a peaceful and happy summer.

Families - the threads of anxiety, of competitiveness, of animosity and feelings of overbearing as well as not being compassionate are common in lots of families. This is a story of one such family who try over one summer to iron out differences so that the family unit can be maintained.

Descriptive of the area in which the Shore House is situated almost idyllic in fact this was a family saga.

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

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal

Four generations of women - all strong willed and all thrust under one roof almost to manage as best as they could.

Zoe and her daughter Isabel are returning to the home of Zoe's grandmother who is now ailing. Lillian the matriarch is a well published writer but who is now beginning to show the onset of dementia.  Poppy her daughter abandoned her daughter Zoe at the age of seven and this wound has never healed for Zoe. Despite decades gone by Zoe does not want to have anything to do, or even see her mother. Living in the same small village, and knowing that Poppy has been a care giver for Lillian does not make it easier. Also realizing that she alone has held out against Poppy is gall, because even Isabel who is such a troubled spirit seems to find solace in Poppy.

The focus then shifts with the absence of Diana, a caregiver for Lillian who goes missing and who over a period of weeks is feared dead. The story of why and how this happened is a secondary story because it is the four women's story which is the primary one. It is an emotional, heart breaking one because the hurt caused by actions of abandonment and seemingly lack of love for a child is something that is seemingly un bridgeable.

It was not easy to keep track of four different stories - but the fact that they are divided into separate chapters helped.

Beautiful story.

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Last Scoop by R G Belsky

Clare Carlson was a tenacious journalist. She had learnt from an old timer Martin Barlow and to her regret she found that during the last year she had not made enough time for him and now it was too late as he was found dead. No one wants to believe there was foul play but Clare knows that there is a story behind his death.

How big the story was, was the unknown part as it took a lot of digging, a lot of threats from the mob and from other important people including Martin's own family and she ruffled a lot of feathers both at the TV station where she worked and the Police with her reveals.

There are cover ups and conspiracies, there is a lot of guilt over neglect and over extra marital affairs, there are lots of strands but they are woven together very well to bring forward an exceptional story.

The series is new to me and though this was the third book, it did well as a stand alone.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Oceanview Publishing.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

As Far As You Can by David A. Fiensy (History AD 66 to 73)

This was a different kind of read. History and a lot of it, some of it rather obscure but as you read the story it did get very interesting because it showed me particularly how limited people were. The world was a smaller place and your village, your clan, your race was the most important.

In Elazar's world having a son was the most important thing and however good his wife was, until she produced this boy there was no worth at all. This was sad particularly because the only son that was born to him was deformed in his face and for Elazar this was an insurmountable problem.

Plenty of violence, betrayal and battles this was a novella set against the great Jewish war against Rome in AD 66 to 73. The violence was extensive, the damage to life and property immense and the value given to life was minimal. Primal almost the desire to be famous, and in the process as savage as you can be.

And most importantly a question that continues to be asked - Is God present in a world which has so much evil?

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Christian Faith Publishing.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Next Widow by C J Lyons

If you want a page turner, a book that will keep you guessing almost to the end this is it. Leah is a dedicated doctor, her husband Ian a computer geek and Emily their daughter a gifted child. Theirs is a happy home. When things go awry and Ian is found brutally and inexplicably murdered detectives are not aware as to where to start.

Luka Jericho the Detective in charge does not believe the wife is suspect but he is working alone on this as his team are very sure that she is at the bottom of it. Their suspicions arise because Leah is clinically composed, not emotional and does not burst into tears with people. Leah on the other hand knows that there is much more than this being a random killing or a home invasion and that she must be the one to protect the child Emily at whatever cost.

Fast paced, clues falling all around you - even the reader wonders whether the wife is the suspect here despite evidence to the contrary. It all seems to point to her and so many pointers are towards her only. It takes good detection skills to see the cleverness and trickery of a twisted mind who is behind the killings.

Characterization was very good because it showed that not everyone goes to pieces in a crisis. Some people can think things through in the most desperate of situations.

The cover was I felt completely at odds with the story.

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