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Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Italian Villa by Daniela Sacerdoti


Callie's world is torn apart when her parents die accidentally. She is further stunned when she gets to know that she is adopted, originates from a small town in Italy - Montevino and has inherited her mother's house there.

Nonplussed as to what to do, she pulls up her roots and flies to Italy to discover what life may have to offer there. She finds a community all of whom knew her mother, her aunt still living there maintaining the house immaculately and particularly upsetting her aunt is very antagonistic towards her. Stories and rumours abound as to why her aunt behaves in this manner but it is a story that unravels slowly.

The journey to this village, the beauty of a rural Italian countryside coupled with the story of Callie who is trying to come to grips with the suddenness of the change,  is this story. The change in lifestyle from being all alone in the world in America and practically penniless to owning a house and being surrounded by friendly faces was a very nice feature of this story. The saga of loneliness is a hard thing to bear and this story shows how good it is to be surrounded by loving people.

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E Ladd

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor (Cornwall, #2)

Regency England was not very kind to its womenfolk. At least not from my opinion! the only way forward was to make an advantageous match and this had to be planned and maneuvered by female relatives who were past masters at the game.

The Langbournes and the Blakes are two mining families in a small village. But the similarity seems to end there. Mr. Langbourne is a businessman first and foremost and the livelihood and life of his miners does not affect him. It is a matter of profit only. Of the Blake brothers the eldest seems to be disinterested in the mine he has inherited and leaves the working and management of it to his brother Isaac.

The closure of the mine owned by the Langbournes has brought about a lot of hardship, resentment and anger amongst the community but the owner is not bothered by this at all. Into this comes Julia their niece, escaping a romance which went wrong at home and being a companion to the daughter of the house who is presently pregnant and rather ill.

The story is not just a romance, which was nice as it is but it also gave one a descriptive story of the mines and how these formed the backbone of the community and how the entire village depended on it for their wellbeing. Added to the story is a tale of treasure, of debts and deals within deals which go horribly wrong and you have a very interesting story set in Regency England.

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

Similar to a Georgette Heyer.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor

This is a book that is quite nostalgic for a slightly older reader, and for the younger ones may be a book that will make them question whether places and people like this actually existed. Set in a not very far off time of the 1960s Ballybucklebo (the name itself sounds quirky) seems to be idyllic place peopled by very fine upright characters with just the odd man out to throw a spanner in the works literally.

Set amidst for the great part in a doctor community both in a hospital and outside the hospital the story covers freshman during their internship and how they plan their futures and how best to integrate into the Irish community at large. The question of migration also looms because promotion is painfully slow in Ireland and those wanting to make their mark in the world seem to be looking elsewhere.

Add to the hospital background which even to a layman was not very technical and quite interesting was the vagaries of life and death which faced everyone in this small village.

Very well told, unfolding gradually, with its ups and downs this was a very pleasant read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Macmillan Tor Forge.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Adoring Abigail by Chalon Linton

A Regency romance which was very important after all the mystery suspense books I've been reading. It was so necessary to get me back into the spirit of reading.

Abigail is living with her grandmother. Abigail also stutters and for this era it is considered a disability and a huge liability in the scheme of finding a marriage partner and considering that this was considered the sole purpose of young women it did pose a handicap for Abigail. Under strict instructions not to talk because when she did, she was described as simple or worse stupid.

We have the local manor and a new occupant - a complete outsider to the village a man who was a Captain in the Army, just back from the Napoleonic wars and one not conversant with running a grand house in the manner it should be done. He has his mother and sister with him and he knows that despite his wealth, he has to find acceptance within the community if he is to make a happy life for himself.

Falling for Abigail was not part of the plan and competing with the local vicar for her attentions was also not in his plan. How the romance proceeds and eventually comes to a lovely end is this story.

Light reading, with the accent on Abigail's stutter was a bit unusual and highlights society which only accepted the norm.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Covenant Communications

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Holy Blood by Kim Fleet

16th century England was not just medieval it was also on the road to inquisition. Catholics were persecuted and despite this Catholicism prevailed in pockets. Such was faith. The punishment for even having a holy book was horrendous and you'd think that people would be more cautious of having priests around and having mass but this they did.  The 16th century part of the novel set in Hailes Abbey and its subsequent surroundings and inhabitants dealt with exactly that.

We then move on to modern Cheltenham 2015 and a bunch of archaelogists, forensic scientists and a TV personality dealing with the discovery of a skeleton and a vial described as Holy Blood. The trail of murder and mystery surrounding this discovery and the unraveling of a sordid personal history is the second part of the story.

My second read from this author - Paternoster was very good, this was also excellent reading taking you into two time lines both intriguing.

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

On another note, since weather seems to be a prevailing topic these days, we are having blindingly hot weather - going out after nine am seems precarious. I try to do any chores early returning as quickly as possible to the cooler haven of my flat.  Its dangerously hot out there.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The House at Silvermoor by Tracy Rees

1897 and 1905. In 1897 things were engrained in a system. One knew "one's place". Most people were very happy with the arrangement. You were born into an occupation, however hard, however overbearing your superiors you just went on. You lived in the same village, married someone from the same village and the whole pattern is repeated. Once in a while you get a changeling. Someone who questions, who wants a better life or a different life and then things get very tough for that person. Surprisingly the worst was from the family itself who could not understand why you wanted to bring the wrath of your betters on your entire clan, by wanting something better for yourself.

This was the hard part of the book, but was a fact of life in 1897. Josie was a bright spark and with Tommy also within a coal mining family in Yorkshire wanted education, wanted to see what the world could offer other than the mundane. This did not sit well with either family and this story chronicles their life story, their adventures, their search into their ancestry not always with favourable results and their life and happy future.

I loved reading about the various characters of this book, the lifestyle of both the rich and the grindingly poor. Surprising that revolutions did not happen more often given the condition of the majority of the people.

This was history as well as a saga of a village and family.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Quercus Books.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Liar's Daughter by Claire Allan

Joe McKee lay dying. The last stage. He had a daughter and a step daughter. Ex wife, sister all around but the atmosphere was so dark, so heavy, so ominous that from the first page you knew that everything was awry.

For atmosphere you can give this book a hundred percent. For deep down anger and sadness and the inability to throw these feelings off was very hard to read about. I almost gave up mid way as the book made me angry and mad at family who were blind, and in the end not just blind but actually wicked.

Ciara and Heidi are the two girls involved and their story is told in alternate chapters. They detest each other, with and without reason. Despite being adults the feelings of animosity and hatred have not gone away. The story builds up to a crescendo between these two with plenty of emotion provided by secondary characters.

This was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Avon Books UK

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Beach House by P R Black

It was going to be their dream holiday and when Cora's fiancée sold his business for an eight figure sum it was the icing on the cake.

Little did they know that many eyes were following their path. Many people knew about the sale and the money involved and even if it meant murder, they meant to get their hands on it. Befriending Cora and Jonathan till it came to the point that they did not know who their friends were and who were their enemies, the story unravels slowly taking you to a point of almost no return.

I was not a fan of any of the characters, but having said that the characterization was spot on. The island's beauty and sleaze were both depicted in equal measure and the bad guys were really bad!

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

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

The year 1911 in America was hard for progressive women and Peggy was different from the other young women of her class. She was an heiress and though she was pretty naïve about money, she knew her position and family invariably brought restrictions of every kind.

When she was coerced to accompany the family to Coney Island to one of the most aristocratic hotels in the holiday atmosphere, it was with reluctance she went. Mainly to please her mother, and because it seemed that her younger sister's marriage to the heir Henry Taul depended on this trip.

The trip gives Peggy the chance for freedom of some kind where she gets to mingle with normal folk and in time she meets up with a small time Balkan origin entertainer cum odd job man who very unlike her she falls deeply in love with. She knows that this will not be tolerated by the Family at all and it does not bode well as you know how it is going to turn out.

Things take an unexpected turn when bodies of young women turn up, and when the Police try to pin it on either Stefan (Peggy's love interest), him being Balkan and hot headed and Peggy herself. Will the Batternberg money be able to spin a web to cover up the actual murderer and will Peggy have the courage to uncover the actual murderer.

Descriptive of a period long past, of a culture in America which was very distinct and the problem of immigrants (still existing) and how America dealt with it then. Very good reading.

It also showed the machinations of a manipulative scheming family where respectability was paramount even though everyone knew what everyone was upto!

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

Murder in Rat Alley by Mark de Castrique

My first read of this author - this book is fine as a stand alone as well.

We have a pair of private investigators ex Veterans who somehow find themselves surrounded by the mystery of dead bodies and in this case the body is decades old. Missing from his work station, Frank was a quiet, hard working man a computer geek at the time of the computers infancy, he had no enemies and was an unassuming man. When body parts were discovered in the grounds of a space station the odds of a murder being committed there were very high what with security being tight but slowly unraveling the mystery we find it connected to a murder in Vietnam of another veteran and the involvement of a family and current criminal activities, the pace hots up.

Very good characterization, a fast pace and well thought out plot and story this held my interest throughout. I will be looking out for this author in the future as well.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Man She Married Alison James

This is another one of those stories that is so improbable that it is actually quite possible. It is quite feasible for someone to copycat or what they call identity theft nowadays and become someone else.

Alice was trusting. She was a bit naïve. Not overly so. Brought up by loving parents and with a very normal sibling there was no reason to distrust people. When Dominic came into her life, despite that there were certain twinges of misgivings she over rode those feelings. She also knew distinctly that her best friend had reservations about the relationship but once she knew Alice was in deep, she put them aside and gave her the support she needed.

It was only after his death, that the entire mess unraveled in stages and showed the workings of a clinical, cold blooded man who was only after one thing - himself and that anyone who wanted more from him had to go. Alice escaped with her life, after several near calamities and should be considered one of the lucky ones.

A mystery serial killer murder/thriller. Psychopathic character who literally got away with murder until he was killed surprisingly by accident himself.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

A book that will exasperate you, annoy you, keep you amused, make you rather prickly too.
It was entertaining.

Cassie and Ginny are neighbours. 55 and 35 respectively very un alike in ways, attitudes and characteristics but both are tenacious, both underlying the frivolity are good people and this is their story. Of hopelessness, despair, depression, relationships, the difficulty in finding (and keeping) a partner and their hopes for their futures.

It was a mish mash of feelings and basic living and trying to come to terms with life and come to terms they did - eventually. Ginny's basic fear of ending up alone without a family is shared by many and many would be able to empathise with her in this story though at times she annoyed me no end. Cassie is someone as a neighbor you'd steer well clear of - she was a pain in the butt but Ginny obviously saw beyond the façade.

The story was an excellent one and I will be looking out for this author in the future as well.

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

On a non book note, I am looking forward to visiting Melbourne and seeing the grandchildren and the children (note order of preference now). It has been too long.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Place We call Home by Faith Hogan

A family centric story but one also of with strong historical links set in an idyllic setting of Ballycove a village in Ireland which forms the backdrop to the story.

Miranda has taken over the mills through a quirk of fate. Now with intense hard work she has brought it from the brink of bankruptcy to its present state of being one of the foremost mills in the country with a reputation for quality and innovation unmatched by other designers. With ill health dogging her footsteps, Miranda knows she has to decide on who is going to take over the mills when she steps down but with three children of widely differing personalities and capabilities she is in a quandary.

With great power and wealth the usual characteristics of greed, envy and ambition rear their heads and even in the closest of families strife and mistrust soon will appear. This family is no different. How Miranda steers the family amongst each of their own personal woes and problems is the brilliant stuff of this story.

Wonderful writing.

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

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Give The Devil His Due by Sulari Gentill

I love this author's style of writing and am very partial to a Sri Lankan origin author anyway!!!! So few of them around.

The story of Rowland Sinclair and his family - the closest we could get to aristocracy in Australia in itself is an unusual family and background. The understated riches, lifestyle and manner of Rowland is in itself admirable and a story on its own. Set him against a motley crowd of arty types like Edna who has acquired a reputation which is not fair, Communists and so called hangers on and then set an attempted murder/s in this background and you have a fascinating story.

Set on a race track with a killer reputation, we have people gunning for Rowland Sinclair. In the process others get killed which adds to the mystery. The 1930s political scene in Australia was complicated and amazing and to someone like me who did not have a clue as to what Australia was like then, the story was a revelation.

Loved the writing.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I Choose You by Gayle Curtis

A very twisted lifestyle with strange characters inhabiting the story but so twisted that it has to be true. Elise and Nathaniel three kids and though life is a bit strange it all goes completely ballistic when their daughter is abducted and then found murdered.

What follows is a story of suicide, suicide watchers, promotion of suicides and with no apparent detective/police follow up as to the series of coincidences where people took their lives and nothing happened.

The book is confusing and though I thought I knew who was behind the killings, I was not absolutely sure. There are a lot of clues strewn around and the subject matter is so emotional in itself that I was floundering.

The story was a good one albeit confusing.

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

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Marquise of O (Translation) and The Body in the Dumb River

A short review.

A different way of handling an age old problem. How to cope with an unexpected and unexplainable pregnancy. In a very conservative time. In a very respectable family.

A tragi comedy very well written.

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

The writing in this one is slow as well. But it is somewhat different. A mystery murder of an innocuous man who was known to everyone as being mild and meek and who only wanted to get on with his life.

Seemingly quiet, James lived a double life. With a wife and three daughters who disliked him and who only wanted money out of him and above all respectability, there was Martha on the other hand who was a help mate of the best kind who loved him for who he was.

Littlejohn's detective work is brilliant. Very descriptive writing of both the setting and the characters are spot on. A pleasure to read at any time.

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

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Other Woman by Jane Isaac

Cameron Swift was shot dead by a black clad hemeted young person outside his house. It was not a robbery, neither was it random. Seemingly without any reason. DC Beth Chamberlain is put in charge of the case with the orders from high to solve this random murder quickly.

Monika is Cameron's partner and cannot find any reason why this should happen. With no enemies, a fairly low profile, a man who travels for work there are no clues. On the other side of the world in Goa, Sara is on holiday with her two daughters when she gets the news. It is with her getting the news that the whole story unravels.

How Cameron was able to maintain a duplicate life with no one the wiser, two families which he kept happy and contented but with now over riding financial woes despite an opulent lifestyle, Beth has to unravel the clues left behind to find out why and who did this.

Not just the people around him but even the victim has had secrets and they are kept closely guarded.
A typical mystery murder thriller this was well written with good characterization (especially the two women).

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