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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.