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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.