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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Summons to Murder by J C Briggs

I am glad that I am ending my year with a book by J C Briggs. I've not always been successful in getting the books but am very appreciative to Sapere Books for sending this on to me. 1851 London - Detective Sam Jones and Charles Dickens are good friends. They also know a kind of fatalistic feeling that they are working against great odds. Especially when one of the aristocracy is involved. London is not kind to the poor and helpless, the system of law and justice is weighted heavily in favour of the rich, the famous and the powerful. Depicting London at its worst one could be forgiven for thinking that this is not part of the developed world even in 1851 - the primitive way of living, the squalor and dirt and illness found in the slums of London cheek by jowl to the houses of the rich and famous was in itself upsetting to read about. The callousness and indifference of those who had it all to those who worked for them and came from the lower economic and social classes was immense and hard to even read about. Here the two men have to find a murderer of a friend of theirs. Pierce Mallory was found with a gunshot wound to his head, deemed as a suicide but Dickens knows that this is not the case. Uncovering a story of bigamy, murder, cruelty (forcible incarceration of a wife in an asylum) and using his wits and cleverness to acquire more and more wealth our suspect is a legal luminary much respected and feared by his peers and a member of the aristocracy to boot. Getting him acquitted is not going to be an easy task. The story is both of the historical and mystery murder genre and covers both in great detail. The plot is complicated the suspects and victims are many but the story weaves a good tale to keep the reader engrossed. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Accomplished in Murder by Dara England

Combining a combo of two things I like - a vintage mystery murder and a female sleuth both hard to find in books made this an interesting read for me. Celeste is a long standing friend of Drucilla and when she gets a letter with underlying tones of her being scared Drucilla sets off on a long, tedious journey to frozen Cornwall ostensibly to see her friend Arriving at the house and being welcomed and then warned by two of Celeste's in laws before being told that their friend was dead is a shock for Drucilla but one mystery she is determined to get to the bottom on. Uncovering a story which is common for the era of almost a forced marriage, bigamy, and finding a fortune from a rich wife to bolster the family fortune was a very common occurrence at the time. But when it involved murder the story changes. Intriguing and interesting to read, the backdrop of an aristocratic family - the limitations of the law when dealing with such people protected by their own where even the law backs off for fear of repercussion is sadly prevalent at the time. A download from Amazon.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Son and Heir by Alexander Munninghoff

An emotional epic story of the author's own journey to his past and the slowly unraveling of something that was quite hard to fathom and understand. That his father had a Nazi background and things slowly became discovered about his past. How he tries to reconcile the past of a tortured early 20th century Europe and the ramifications of war on ordinary citizens and how it changed their lives and their children's lives forever and how on earth do you try to reconcile the two worlds. Both World Wars changed the lives of people not just in Europe but all over the world but Hitler and Nazi Germany brought about a brutishness and a brutality which was by far very harsh. How many people still like to cover the traces of what their ancestors did during this period, especially if you were from the wealthy and aristocratic classes in Europe. A book that gets you to think. What your ancestors did is not your responsibility. A download from Amazon

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Murder at St. Anne's by J R Elliz

This was a very good story. It combined so much - the ecclesiastical scene in modern times but with its age old ideologies and sometimes old fashioned ideas so out of place in modern times, then you get the clergy themselves trying to keep up with the 21st century, also trying to appease those parishioners who are slightly behind them, and the myriad secrets that people all over the world have. We have a murder. The vicar - a woman popular, compassionate and friendly has been brutally murdered and even the weapon that was used is a puzzle to the detectives. No outward clues. No scandals in the background. She was ear marked for a bishopric and could this be the cause for the women hating members of her congregation. The detection set against a harsh wintry landscape is very descriptive and the two Detectives on the case go forward very slowly because clues keep getting unearthed - but mainly of secrets that people would want hidden but which really do not have a bearing on this murder. When the second murder happens we know that the ghost of St Annne's is definitely not behind the murders and then a foiled murder attempt sets the pace up a bit faster as we know our murderer is not going to stop. The book is a page turner. One that will please any mystery murder reader never mind those of a eclesiastical bent. Sent by Amazon Publishing Uk for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde

1941 America. Steven Katz from a well to do farming family, who are ultra conservative is different. He has found friends which are not in keeping according to his mother of their status in the community. One of them is Japanese origin, born and bred in America but with Pearl Harbour harsh treatment meted out to the Japanese on the one side and his friend and his family get incarcerated in a camp. Another close buddy of his is on the run, because his own father has lied to the police on a battery charge intimating to them that it is the son who is responsible when Steven knows very well on the day in question four of them were on a hike. The actions of the adults in the situation draw the four boys closer and closer together. One volunteers for the Army and on the journey out his ship is torpedoed. So then there were three. Nicky is hidden on the farm away from detectives and kept till it is safe for him to try to find his mother who had abandoned him as a child. That does not end well either. The Japanese are releaed eventually and Steven finds that the insularity of his family is holding him back and he is just waiting for his eighteenth birthday to leave home. The fact that he has discovered he is homosexual and has feelings for Nicky does not help the situation, and once his family knows this it certainly makes him very isolated. The story of a young boy facing responsibilities and pressures well before his time, facing situations which he cannot imagine and trying to deal with them whilst at the same time being under his parents control being under eighteen was hard. Steven did not openly rebel which would be the option of most. He bided his time, waiting for the opportunity to do what he had to do. A fabulous coming of age story, set in hard circumstances of family who were constrained by their upbringing and could never see the bigger picture. A family who preferred to lose their son, rather than acknowledge him for what he was. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

At Midnight in Venice (Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones. Book No. 5)

I adore this series and have bought them off Amazon because I could not resist. I love the English setting specially the contrast between the so very rich and aristocratic society always brought into the stories (as in this one) and then you get the stark contrast with the bone shattering poverty and crime that seemed to abound in London just metres away from the rich and famous. The poor were brought into the rich homes as menials in domestic service, in suppliers of all goods and services and how a rebellion did not happen earlier is a mystery! Two cities - one vision. Venice a few years before where Charles saw a vision of a murder and then fast forward to London where a young woman employed in an aristocrats house goes missing at the same time as the young music master. Add to this the case of the missing daughter of the house "sent to the country" due to ill health, the terrified nature of the Lady of the house and Dickens knows there is more to unravel. Very slowly unravelled with a host of characters, these stories are not for the ones who want fast paced action. This is slow detection work against the odds of having to be very careful when dealing with the high and mighty who have no compunction in using whatever powers that be to protect their name and family to the detriment of everyone else. It further highlighted the hopelessness of the poor and those who did not have family support and these people inhabiting the stories did not have much. Victorian London at its best with a mystery murder thrown in.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Murder at the Castle (A Belinda Pendhurst Mystery Book 2) by Lisa Cutts

Belinda is attracted to Harry though they are two very different characters. They've solved one murder mystery and are now on their second. The local Detectives are a bit miffed that the two seem to get the upper hand on solving the mysteries whenever they occur and have to remind them that they are not police detectives but this definitely does not hold back Belinda who drags the slightly unwilling Harry on. This was a pleasant cozy mystery murder - set in very English surroundings with the usual inhabitants knowing everyone else's business and if they don't finding out by one means or another. Nothing is very private so that when a murder takes place, every one in the village has an opinion of what and how and who. Very engaging and full of humour, this was a very pleasant read. It does well as a stand alone. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Music Makers by Alexandra Walsh

A dual time line fascinates me and most readers. This one was particularly evocative. 1875 London Victorian and we have young women who are not timid nor retiring but who want to make a stand for themselves. Esme Blood and Lynette are young women with theatre in their blood but they now want to spread their wings and see what the wider world holds. They step out into a newer, more sophisticated one than the one they left behind and are successful in their fields. Fast forward to 2020 Wales - Eleanor has been diagnosed with an auto immune illness which has had her hospitalized for a long time. She is now recovering albeit slowly and is building up her business as an online one. She specialises in the theatre - clothes, memorablia and particularly programs. She is very good at her job and when she comes upon a set of programs she is drawn to them almost magnetically as if they are telling her something. Eleanor is also well versed in Tarot card reading and all her readings point her in a direction which she is careful to follow. The similarities between the cards and stories she unearths from 1875 show that there are links between Esme and herself even though they are centuries apart. The story was beautifully descriptive of all the characters involved - especially the 1875 ones and in 2020 the main characters of the story. Family details and how the story is evolving are also minute and very well explained. It is a real page turner and one book which is hard to put by for a later read. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Dangers Of An Ordinary Night by Lynne Reeves

A small town on the outskirts of Boston. A high school but one which has a good reputation for its performing arts students. Students here hope that they, depending on their performances get picked by one of the talent scouts invited for performances and this will be their stepping stone into the big world of the arts. June and Tali have been friends for a long time, and one night after auditioning for a play the two girls go missing. Two days later they are found, one dead one suffering from amnesia, badly scratched and bruised with no account of what happened, other than a man pushing them into a car. Detectives have to work blind - looking into any strange people in the area, anyone with a track record for abduction. and the tedious work of detection and elimination begins. Focus on both girls families as always, then on their circle of friends and their families and small details emerge which dont quite add up. The final denouement is difficult to fathom and understand but it is very well done in the whole drama of this performance. Because it is a performance. Very good characterization, good outline of the story. Perfectly unbelievable till it becomes fact a good mystery suspense thriller. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, December 10, 2021

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

1965 Brighton England. Bert Billington rich and famous impressario is found dead in his own home it seems very natural. He was in his 90s but when his own son blurts out to the police that he suspects his mother had a hand in the death, the police have got to take action, especially since a post mortem shows that he died of rat poisoning being ingested over a period of time. Brighton Police have got competition in the form of a private detective agency of two women - one a journalist and one a former detective herself who married the Chief Inspector and retired. Emma and Sam are hired by Verity - Bert's wife and slowly they untangle so much in the past life of Verity and Bert (who seemed to have no end of people who would be happy to see him dead). What especially marked it for me, was that women whether it was 1930s England or as recent as 1965 their position had not changed much. Slightly derogotary was the attitude of the Police towards fellow workers and did not give them the dignity of their position at all. It was an upward task all the time and women seemed to have to fight to get a position. Many just gave in timidly it seems. The detective story was an interesting one. Old characters coming up again. Sent by Mariner Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Complete Provincial Lady Series - Five Novels - E M Delafield

1930s England. The setting mainly a village in Devon full of self important characters - the Vicar's wife for one and we have our very self effacing lady. Who would like to retort cleverly and smartly and never does and gets taken advantage of left, right and centre. The stories are a collection of five pieces - each interesting and details the Provincial Lady's travels and pursuits from Russia to America to wartime England. There are trips back and forth home but the children are growing up fast and she though particularly sentimental over her children, has accepted the fact that they are now grown up. Her relationship with Robert is a bit sad - she loves him dearly, but he is typified as the usual stoic Englishman who is frightened to even show the slightest bit of emotion or feelings - not a new age man definitely and I do so wish he could have been a bit warmer! The stories are tailor made for an Anglophile - they may not appeal to all because they are old fashioned, the women somehow give in to the men at all levels whether husband, bosses, uncles or anyone around. But it is descriptive of the age in which they were set and the conditions of the time. The stories apart from describing the conditions, the characters of the times also depicts the domestic front which was in operation at the time. England's homes still had a cook, a maid and the change had not yet fully come. I enjoyed reading it very much. Was just happy that Amazon put this out in a collection at such a reasonable price too.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Gated Prey by Lee Goldberg

One in a series but good as a stand alone we have our female Chief Detective facing as usual the barrage of bad feeling from her colleagues with just a few supporting her work. Her success is the cause for the antagonism, never mind that she almost died in the case and the fact that the last case is going to be cast into a TV series has not won her any followers amongst her fellow workers. When a series of robberies takes place in gated communities with so called security guards and plenty of preventive measures in place Eve follows up on the latest robbery. A trail which leaves the three robbers dead all not caused by her own hand, anyway gets her the notoriety she hates and which her boss is going to use to his best advantage for the advancement of his own political career. Uncovering a racket which seems to go beyond just three youngsters on a stealing spree, a murder of a woman and a baby is uncovered which adds to the complications in the story. The story is fast paced, and an eye opener on how easy it is to get into even a gated community when the community itself becomes lax on security and warnings. Everyone gets very settled into an easy pace and then the trouble begins. Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Sherlock Holmes and the Rosetta Stone Mystery by Linda Startmann

1876 Holmes has already garnered a reputation of being odd, eccentric, not quite following the rules and the bane of London Police Chiefs. They do not like his unorthodoxy, his so called modern methods and his way of doing things just out of the box. When the priceless Rosetta Stone is found missing from the museum - no break in, no obvious sign of damage it is extremely puzzling to all including the Police. Followed by a ransom note to say that unless paid, the Stone would be cast into the sea - it sends everyone on a wild goose chase to the Docks to see whether the stone is being hid on a ship there. But how did it get there as it was a cumbersome thing to move. When one employee who was coshed on the head dies during the burglary, and the other suffering from amnesia Holmes considers it an inside job and slowly starts to unravel the pieces of the puzzle. Quite slow on the detective angle, at times lingering and repetitive, the story picks up rapidly and then moves on with a number of characters involved and different sets of people and places. Interesting angle on Holmes, Watson and Stamford. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Murder on the Pier by Merryn Allingham (A Flora Steele Mystery No. 1)

Again this can be read as a stand alone though there are references to the earlier story (also in the same genre). Flora is a bit of a day dreamer, also a amateur detective also owner of a bookshop which she inherited from her aunt. She loves her job, she loves her village but like the Midsomer Murder series, this idyllic village area harbours very vicious people. When Polly a beautiful girl from the village is found murdered and discovered near a pier by Flora and Jack, who are out for a day outing with the boy Charlie the detection has to start on the part of Flora because the Detective Inspectors assigned to the case call on it as an accident if not suicide. They are not willing to even admit to the fact that Polly had her life in front of her and it could never be considered suicide - or the theory of Flora's that it was no accident but that the girl was pushed. When Flora herself is pushed at the same pier and escapes a gruesome death, very narrowly Jack is convinced that someone is trying to cover up Flora's enquiries because she is the only person who is pursuing the line that Polly's death is murder. Jack and Polly have a way to go to uncover clues because the murderer is someone whom they least suspect. In this case there are plenty of suspects but the final closure is different. A very nice cozy. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Death on a Winter's Day Verity Knight (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery No. 8)

Though part of a series, this does well as a stand alone though the major characters of Lady Eleanor the inimitable butler, the kitchen staff and the mutt all star in all the books. Lady Eleanor has decided to spent Christmas in Scotland. In a remote castle. Her friends the beleagured Baron and Baroness Ashley are left without any domestic help as the Presbytarian Church has apparently cancelled Christmas. The staff are angry and annoyed and obstructive when Lady Eleanor descends on them with Clifford in charge of the domestic arrangements to take over and present a pleasing Christmas for all. When one of their number is found murdered, and only Clifford keeping the peace and protective of Lady Eleanor because so many hidden currents of animosity exist between the guests that it is decided that an investigation privately has to be undertaken because the Baron is taken into custody as a prime suspect in the murder. When victim Number Two falls from a balcony or was she pushed, the search is a bit more frantic and Lady Eleanor herself is in danger from a most cunning murderer. Very enjoyable writing, in the spirit of Christmas despite the murders, Lady Eleanor and her cast keep the reader very amused and moving along very well. A lovely start for December. Thank you to Bookouture who sent this book out for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Three Widows of Wylder by Julie Howard

Three woman each totally different, sharing only one thing in common. They were on the run from the law for different reasons. Clara the eldest at 36 running away to her brother's farm after the killing of her husband, then there was Mary Rose whom you wanted to shake till her teeth rattled - vacuous and empty headed but sharp when it came to her own survival again after the death of her third husband and still very young, and finally Emma the brave, different but also running away. The setting of the rugged terrain of the Wild West was very relevant to the story. The hardships endured in reaching Clara's brother's house which would afford them protection they thought was the key. Each woman sought a life after reaching their safe place, two of them in marriage and one in a secure future. That it all worked out in different ways and they all found redemption to live their lives is this story. Nicely told, descriptive and rather a different setting. Sent by The Wild Rose Press Inc for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Brush With Murder by Bailee Abbott

Chloe is returning home after what she thinks is a failed attempt at a career. Her partner and she have parted ways and coming back home to a quiet small town was her way of recouping her losses and trying to decide what she wants to do next. Izzie her sister is just opening a Paint shop and is excited that Chloe is here to help with what she wants as a grand debut with event after event lined up to kick start the show, especially since it is tourist season. What they did not take into account was the murder of one of the ladies in the backyard of Izzie's shop. Since the victim was someone who had taken a dig, blackmailed and slandered practically all the shop owners in the town, there was no shortage of suspects including Izzie and Chloe and Detective Hunter has his hands full trying to eliminate one by one from his list. A more tame version of a mystery murder. Not vintage and not very modern this was a slow story but pleasant reading. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey No. 1)

March 1934 seems very Victorian in some aspects in this story. Josephine Tey the celebrated author is travelling from Scotland to London for the final week of her best selling theatre production Richard of Bordeaux. She is in a mixed state of mind - on the one hand the success of the play and on the other the conflicts its success has brought to her personal life - almost ending with an attempt on her life and a very twisted law suit which she won. On her train trip to London she encounters a fan - Elspeth theatre struck and delighted to meet the author and Elspeth and Josephine hit it off and the journey is completed happily with plans to meet at the theatre later on. It was a tragic end for Elspeth who was found murdered in her compartment just an hour after Josephine departed for her hotel and then the detective work starts. Going back decades, a very twisted story of revenge, bitterness and a psychopathic father who passed on his leanings to his son the story throws up a number of suspects and then ends in a second murder. Detectives know that the two are connected but how and why are only brought about by very slow unravelling of clues one at a time. The story was a mesmerizing one set in the backdrop of the bright lights of the theatre and drama world and the contrast between that and the dark side of anger and murder are very marked. I enjoyed the read - a slightly slower pace of detection than what is presented today and the characters themselves were all varied. It added a great deal of interest and variety to the story. This was a purchase from Amazon who by the way still does not permit me to post reviews there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald (Kate Palmer Book No. 4)

I like that the detectives in the story are not so young and not so dynamic as the detectives one generally finds in books. Kate is in her sixties and her retired partner Detective Inspector is older. Kate has a propensity to be drawn to danger, mystery and murders! In this story we start with a bridegroom who keels over at the altar - dead by poisoning. Investigating further Kate discovers that four other weddings have been cancelled just before the date, for no proper reason. Knowing that this is too much of a coincidence to be true, she finds out that each of the bridegrooms not got a letter outlining some unsavoury part of their fiancee's past to make it too hard to continue with the marriage. All of them are very bitter over it, but all have moved on. Finding out who could be the murderer was difficult to pin point, especially when Kate's own suspect was found murdered by electrocution. Now Kate and Woody had to set aside their earlier assumptions and work with the new Detective Inspector - the very pretty Charlotte whom Woody liked and Kate did not, to find out who the murderer was. Settinngn of an English village was very nice reading (especially for someone who is not English and does not live in England). Nice detection work. Though part of a series, fine as a standalone. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Secrets of Elloughton Park by Stephen Taylor

This was a fascinating read. Set over two timelines a present day historian who gets more and more enchanted by a woman of two centuries ago and is enthralled by her. James Postlethwaite is fascinated by social history and is very excited to come across the journals of Lord and Lady Carlisle of the 18th century. What was hidden amongst the papers was the quite very well known writings of a cinder maid Ginny Farmer whose account of her life of so very humble beginnings abandoned in a foundlings hospital, then her appointment as a maid in the kitchen and her rise to the ranks of a lady's maid. This position sadly brought her to the attention of the drunken master of the house, she was raped and then fell pregnant and was kicked out. This was the norm. Ginny's meteroric rise from being penniless and destitute to become a prostitute was not a surprise. For a young woman, with no references, no training and no family or money there was no other choice but here too she landed on her feet and slowly developed an aura of being someone who came from a very good family but had fallen on hard times (or been kicked out by her family) and had to make her way in the world. Becoming the sole mistress of one Lord was something Virginia as she was now known, was not something she favoured but she took the step until that too was terminated by her protector. Going solo again Lady Virginia was befriended by unusual men - men who did not look on her just as a prostitue but as a friend and someone whom they mentored, and encouraged to learn more and more. This was what the journals depicted and this was what was so unusual. James relationship with his student protegee and his feelings towards her and his inability to express them was just a secondary story. The real story was Ginny alias Lady Virginia and what a fascinating story. Lots of history, and a lot of details of society and how it evolved at the time - very descriptive. Very detailed of Georgian times. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Next in Line by Marion Todd (Detective Claire Mackay No. 5)

Though this was a No 5 in the series, it does well as a stand alone. A murder takes place in an exclusive boutique hotel, in isolated gardens in Scotland. The victim and his family are well known and reporters are all over the place. The family had faced tragedy before when they lost another sibling in the tsunami in Thailand and this murder is resurrecting a lot of old memories. Celebrating his 40th birthday Russel did not expect to be murdered on his birthday. The marksman who shot him was an expert shot and Detective Claire has to whittle down her suspects - the immediate ones are cagey, careful and extremely smart. Further widening her net, Claire discovers many extraneous strands to the initial story and now she is looking at people far beyond her initial line up. Family complications galore in the victims family, treachery amongst friends of decades and keen and slow methodical detection makes this a best seller read. The setting too added a lot of atmosphere to the story. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Murder of Patience Brooke by J C Briggs

The first in the series of Detective Sam Jones and Charles Dickens. London 1849 was a city of contrasts. You had the well to do leading a life of comfort and ease, and then you got the horrendous alleys and slums where every villain and vice existed. Literally hell holes. J C Briggs brings London to life in his stories. Almost unimaginable but obviously very much part of the life of the city the two sides lived together almost seamlessly. In this story a young, quiet, well behaved woman living at a Home of Refuge found brutally murdered and her body displayed in a deliberately wanton manner brings Detective Sam Jones and Charles Dickens to investigate and find out how this happened. Clues are scarce and by piecing a few random bits of information a net is thrown to find the young man - a toff, moneyed and fearless and bring him to book. It was not going to be easy - the suspect is shrewd, knows how to play the game, knows how to play on his connections and this is a time when Detectives and people like Dickens were looked down upon. Dickens himself of very humble origins has climbed out of the poverty he was born into and has always a fear that he will be dragged back into that morass. The story apart from trying and solving the mystery murder of this young woman is also a piece of history detailed and descriptive of how the city of London was and how it was evolving. It also was descriptive of the social changes that were happening and what was going to come. The development of industry, railways and the education of women were all just coming into being and the story has glimpses of all this. An absolute page turner for all lovers of vintage crime detection, for those who like to read about social change and those who like stories like the ones of Sherlock Holmes and that vintage. A download from Amazon this was a fabulous find.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Stalker Stalked by Lee Mathew Goldberg

I did expect something different from the story, and maybe that was why I found it hard going though I did finish the book. Lexi is a character that I found it hard to like. Pill popping, alcoholic who is addicted to reality TV. Fixated on a particular character, wanting to be part of the inner circle and determined to get there and frustrated beyond belief when she is determinedly left out. The influencers on this show are a very tightly knit circle, they don't want newcomers barging in. Lexi is not helped by the fact that she had a horribly abusive childhood. Her relationships have fizzled out due to her excessive neediness apart from the fact that she herself stalks her partners mainly due to her insecurities. This was a tough book to read, but I think realistic as well as it depicts exactly how insecure, spaced out people may behave. Sent by All Due Respect for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Christmas 1938. It is meant to be very Christmassy especially since it is a mixed gathering, but there seems to be many hidden tensions. The hosts the Westbury's themselves are a mixed bunch. Lord W is vague and somewhat out of place, Lady W is the mistress of ceremonies who has to hold things together, Three grown up children all squabbling with each other - all seemingly having hidden agendas. Then the invitees themselves. When David one of the guests and a very old friend of the family is found murdered on their doorstep, Hugh Galveston is called in as an old friend and visitors for Christmas to try to use his detective skills to solve the murder. The local constable thinks it is an open shut case of suicide and his language is hilarious in the description. The story of Hugh trying to detect, but avoiding the local police and the family and the other guests from interfering and upsetting his plans are amusing. It is 1938 and on the cusp of WW but these seem far away for this family who want to stick to their traditions of what they consider a "proper Christmas". Trying to keep within these boundaries of what is considered respectable is also a burden as even a post mortem is considered not quite right for the aristocracy. Reminiscent of an era long gone, this was a cosy mystery murder set with just few characters but all vastly different from each other. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Darjeeling Inheritance by Liz Harris

1930s Darjeeling. The era was an interesting one. The British are firmly in control and intend things to stay that way. A more liberal minded Britisher would think that giving some kind of liberty to the Indians is on the cards but the majority do believe, very sincerely that they are a superior race and it is their views and their opinions that count. The tide is turning however and with Gandhi on the horizon things are never going to be the same for the British Raj. In Darjeeling Charlotte returns from her extended boarding school stay in England to find her father dead and her mother determined to leave India on the next boat. Persuading her mother to stay so that she will get married and take over the reins of Sundar, the tea property bequeathed to her by her father was no easy task. Charlotte persuades her mother that she is willing to keep an open mind to marry Andrew, because that was the wish of her late father who wanted to join the two properties together. What no one accounted for was that Charlotte though young and very inexperienced in life had a mind of her own and was determined to make her own way in Darjeeling. The complications of the newly married Mrs. Banning making a play for Andrew, Charlotte's intended was a spoke in the wheel for the smooth courtship that was envisaged. The story meanders through the daily workings of a remote tea plantation with an insular tight knit community, where gossip is rife because there is nothing else to do. Everyone's business is known if not to the other, by their servants who pick up all the information very fast. It was a good life, an interesting one but only if you liked the country, the flora, the fauna and the weather. Otherwise it was devastating with also a major loss of life especially of children. This was a very descriptive read one of the history, then the geography of Darjeeling in the 1930s. The description of the daily lives of both the Britishers and the Indians added a lot of interest to the story. Sent by Heywood Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Betrayal on the Bowery by Kate Belli (A Gilded Gotham Mystery No. 2)

At the end of reading this book, I was very sorry as I had now read both books in this short series. I do hope the author has more coming our way. Summer 1889 Genievieve Stewart is not your average New York upper crust family girl. Down to earth and wanting to pursue her journalistic bent she is disheartened by always being assigned to society events in the active New York social calendar. Women were still not given positions of eminence in the journalistic world, and despite her success in a previous case - solving a complicated mystery/murder she now has to work almost behind the scenes if she wants to do anything of substance. Accompanying her friend Daniel to see off their good friends on a honeymoon cruise, she is confronted with a murder of a well known personality in the cabin of her friends and all hell breaks loose when Rupert the Earl of Umberland is arrested for the murder. Working closely with Daniel to unearth the clues of this random murder which does not seem to be as random as they would think. Moving between the world of social, aristocratic New Yorkers and its seamier side of gangs and every kind of vice available Genevieve and Daniel have to clear Rupert's name and find out who is behind the murders as deaths mount. Very descriptive of New York at the time, also of the seamier side of New York as not seen on the surface, it also shows the difficulties that women faced generally at the time. The story has a lot of history in it and is intense and a page turner. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 8, 2021

A Surprise for Christmas & Other Seasonal Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

This was such a delightful collection of short stories - in the mystery/detective genre but going back a few decades so the pace was slower, more quiet deduction and plodding rather than hi tech solutions. It also showed in a number of cases the cleverness of the detectives who spotted human errors and were thus able very quickly, very smoothly to solve the crime. All the stories set during Christmas, it brought a small degree of Christmas spirit to me personally. What with a extended lockdown, curfews, horrendous number of Covid cases and deaths, the inability to get to a church has left many of us feeling slightly isolated and as time went on depressed. I could not wrap my head around the fact that Christmas seems around the corner. This book of stories took me out of it for a bit, made me relive Christmas's past. The stories were all very well written, with central characters and slick side characters, also very descriptive of settings as well. Would be enjoyed by those readers who like a slightly older vintage of the mystery genre. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Vanished Days (Scottish series) by Susanna Kearsley

This had all the elements of excellent story telling. Strong characters, history, family sagas and their personal histories, a story encompassing several generations and community and country. What was there not to like. The period of 1707 but going back to the late 17th century covering the Jacobite revolution, the return of James III. We have a young woman coming forward to claim her entitlement of a widow of a man who went on the ill fated Darien expedition. To assess her claim two men have to check out all the facts but one of them is suspicious of what is put forward, the other falls headlong in love with her. The story starts from there, alternately going back in time to previous times of Lily's birth, and then her young years coming into a family which protected her and then when her only protection was gone, literally threw her to the wolves. The hardships encountered by Lily till her present predicament are very well outlined and told by this author whose research into the turbulent history of Scotland at the time was meticulous. A must for readers who like history, who like a story well told. I've liked very much everyone of Susanna Kearsley's books one of the few authors whose books I have kept back in my declutter as I do so like to go back to them every once in a while. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Bad Blood by Marilyn Todd

1895 London. Not the best age for women - especially single ones like Julia McAllister doing a man's job and pretending there is a man who actually owns the establishment as otherwise it will not be patronised as it would not be considered "respectable" enough for ladies to enter. The photographic business is not doing well and it is only Julia's sideline unknown except for the models and for the men who buy the photographs. If word does get out, that will be the end for Julia. Austin Forbes is found dead, and Julia is called upon to photograph the evidence before it is contaminated. This is a new development and one that is not looked favourably upon by the hierarchy as well as the lower orders. In the process of photographing the dead man, Julia finds that the case could be connected with the abduction of the man's son eight years prior. Enquiring from all, including the family it transpires the man was disliked, was a womanizer, was harsh in his business dealings so that there are umpteen suspects in his murder. The characters both the main ones which fade as the story goes on, to the secondary characters who come out more strongly as the story develops, the setting and the history of this era all come to the fore in this story. So apart from crime and mystery there is a strong historical fiction element as well. A good read. Sent by Sapere Books for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Murder in the Village by Lisa Cutts (Belinda Penshurst book No. 1)

The village of Little Chalham is idyllic in its setting but alongside its quaint history and characters, there are hidden depths. When the local tavern keeper, Tipper - a surly soul is found murdered drowned in his own barrel of beer, swiftly followed by another murder this time wrapped in cling film Belinda and Harry an ex detective have their noses to the ground to try to find out the trail of why and how these murders are happening, all connected to Harry's own employment as a supplier of dog food. With kidnapping of dogs, three taverns or pubs competing for business the downfall of one definitely leads to the increase in business for the other and there was no love lost between the three owners. Then how do the dog nappings get connected into the puzzle? Slightly naive Belinda and Harry who is led by his nose by Belinda follow a series of clues and with a great deal of luck as well, solve the mystery. A light hearted cosy. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Bright Young Thing by Brianne Moore

1930s England must have been a very difficult time for young women who had a yen for independence. They had a peak at it during WWI, got all their freedom taken back at the end of it and were expected to go back to a Victorian age. The plight that befell Astra Davies was similar. Her parents dying in a freak accident, her taken in by an unwilling Aunt, no monies available for survival and no skills at all for her to survive on her own. Astra realized soon after the death of her parents that things were really bad. The only way out, as touted by her Aunt was a rich marriage. Suitors were there in plenty but on Astra's side she had to hide the fact that she was almost destitute. What she thought was a comfortable living was a lie, her father had invested badly had lost it all. When Astra realized that she had been living in a coccoon, she took the reins into her own hands and tried to slowly uncover the secrets her parents had hidden from her, in a foolish bid of protection. From discovering a simple minded young man, purported to be her brother in an institute, to fraudulent withdrawal of monies due to her by her lawyer, her own Aunt's hand in witholding information and a virulent, psychopathic jealous woman amongst her circle who is ready to destroy Astra's reputation in anyway possible to get rid of her from the social scene. The last was the vituperative bit and unimaginable to what lengths a jealous woman would go to bring down a rival. It was fascinating reading and as the story unfolds the importance of "what will society say" seems paramount for society at the time and anything and everything was done to maintain one's position just so. Very descriptive of the times, very descriptive of the main characters in this story this was a really interesting book to read. Sent by Alcove Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

1985 is not really a very long time ago. The way the story unfolds however it seems like the Middle Ages. Bill Furlong his wife and family live in Ireland minding their own business. He supplies coal and kindling to everyone around, is a fair businessman and a steady family man. His focus is on building up his business and providing for his wife and children. The convent in their midst is one of the features of Irish life. Strong Catholic links everyone in these parts but though others are aware of what goes on Bill seemed to have been a bit oblivious. The Magdalene laundries are infamous and after having read one account of it, I would not have picked this one up if it was too descriptive of these places but it was not so. On a visit to supply coal and kindling to the Convent, Bill is faced with a small view of what actually goes on in these places but he closes his eyes to it and returns home. It weighs heavily on his mind though. His wife just wants him to forget what he saw because she knows interference with the workings of the Convent will have a huge repercussion on the family. The power of the Church was widespread, and vindictive. (at the time in Ireland). The story is very touching, and emotional. It is also quite precise and not long winded. Though the subject is a tough one, the feeling of being humane and compassionate are all encompassing in this read. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Farewell Blues by Maggie Robinson (Lady Adelaide Mysteries No. 4)

Lady Adelaide is not the average lady of the day. She is more than halfway in love with Detective Devanand Hunter, a relationship which will be scandalous for more than half the aristocracy. Her worries right now are not on that score. Her mother the very proper Dowager Compton is in prison for the murder of the Duke of Rufford. The evidence is over whelming, the Rufford family wants to see justice done and this seems the quickest way to achieve it and they are not too bothered if the Dowager is actually guilty or not. Lady Adelaide is not going to take things lying down. She is determined to see her mother vindicated, and free and at the same time find out who the murderer was. She knows socially the family will be outcasts with this scandal and the future of not just her but her younger sister is at stake. The story written with the setting of the English aristocracy with all their eccentricities and foibles, their methods of doing things just so, the attraction between the young Detective and Lady Adelaide, the unscrupulousness of the Rufford family all do their level best to put roadblocks in the investigation. The Police, corrupt as they possibly could just want to finish the case, see the Lady hang and be done with it. I loved the writing style, the setting, the romance (not overly done) and the entire story. I hope I can get more from this author soon. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Little Bones by Patricia Gibney (Detective Lottie Parker No. 10)

Though this is No.. 10 in the Detective Lottie Parker series, this does very well as a stand alone. Isabelle Gallagher is found murdered, her throat slashed, a razor blade in her hand whilst her infant daughter is screaming in her cot. The baby is unharmed. Detective Lottie Parker is on the scene and what she unravels with a belligerent husband, a mother who is hiding something and a very quiet, unassuming victim who obviously incurred the wrath of someone to meet a death like this. No clues are apparent, the killer was clever but when another mother and son go missing and when the body turns up again with razor blades on the scene there seems to be a connection, however tenuous it is. Connecting the dots and turning up a trail is not easy for these victims who led lives with no history and who lived almost under the radar. A good thriller, well written holding one's interest from start to finish. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Susan a Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh

A mix of Regency Romance, touches of Persuasion, lots of Pride and Prejudice and you get a scintillating mix for the Jane Austen fantasy. A mixed bag of characters with the familiar Lady Catherine always hovering in the background, her daughter Lady Anne being more assertive than ever before, Frank Churchill dying before his time and Alicia Collins and Susan the start of the show. The characters were nicely placed and I liked that Susan was not all that sweet and submissive and ladylike. On the contrary she was scheming (not just for herself but for others as well), but with good intentions throughout, although her manner of achieving her aims was not very conservative. Mr and Mrs Collins were very nicely portrayed, long suffering and under obligation always. The entire story with its romantic themes interwoven throughout was a good one. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Woman at the Gates by Chrystyne Lucyk-Berger

A difficult story to assimilate as no holds barred in the telling of it. But this is how a story should be told especially one like this. It is also difficult if one has not lived through oppression of been under government control to understand living conditions like this. You can never under estimate the power of neighbours or relations who may not like you and who may "dob" you to the authorities. Compromise which may seem the cowards way out on reading it, may be the only way to survive and the human spirit does need to survive, come what may. The story set in 1944 embodies the spirit of survival, of family ties, of love and the heartbreak behind it all. Of personal sacrifice for the better of the common good. The characters in this story are doing the best they can not just for their country but for their own survival. I followed the maps which were interspersed with the chapters and saw how the borders of Ukraine, Lithuania, Slovekia, Yugoslavia, and even Russia changed every few years with wars and greed of one power taking over another. The story is full of historical detail (in great depth) which may not appeal to anyone other than those who like history because though the personal story is very powerful, the historical story is the one which is uppermost. It was my first read of a story set in 1944 Ukraine. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 18, 2021

A Death at Candlewick Castle by Emma Jameson (Book No. 2 in series)

The setting of a book and the geography also contributes much to the pleasure of reading, especially if you are not from the area, live in a totally different type of environment. Having a book set in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles brings to the overseas reader another glimpse of Britain - a most idyllic one here in this story. The story of a cozy mystery murder set in such surroundings, with an unofficial sleuth on hand and her band of friends adds to the piquancy of the read. When one body is found, and questions raised and he is found to be not such a nice guy after all the suspicions start pointing all ways and when another body is discovered Jem knows she has to get cracking with the clues before the bodies start piling up. Very pleasant reading from this author whom I discovered through another series by her. Sent by Bookouture for an independent review, courtesy of Netgalley

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Small Hotel by Suanne Laqueur

The story set in the islands seems idyllic. The family of Fiskare is close knit, lovable and part of a Swedish community. The ethnicity is quite marked and when a exotic relation from Rio turns up you know sparks will fly and they do. Then the equalizer of the Great War starts and the boys enlist, the household gets broken up, Astrid gets torn away from the love of her life Kemmet by her vindictive mother and there is general heartbreak around. The story continues in the setting of wartime Europe and extremely harsh it is most of the time. One of the sons dies, another is wounded and only one escapes unscathed physically, changed completely mentally. The war descriptive and brutal and all episodes in the various villages were quite difficult to read, fathom and accept. War however is never pretty and this was very harsh. We then go back to peacetime, back to the islands, back to a reconciliation and trying to pull together broken strands of everyone's life to make it all whole and complete again. The settings were different - from the peace and calm of a backwater island, to Europe and everything in between. A family of young men, peaceful and kind and basically good were returned in slightly different form after the ravages of war. Acceptance of being different was an important feature of the story. An unusual book in unusual settings. The horrors of war well told. Sent by Cathedral Rock Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward

Some mother daughter relationships are fraught with so many roadblocks. Emma had rarely spoken to her mother over the last couple of years because it invariably became tense, rude and unforgivable things were said. The fact that her mother was a difficult woman was acknowledged by many, but her mother's animosity towards Emma's second child, her daughter Libby was unforgivable. When her mother died, and Emma was left to clear her house and stuff, her will was enough in itself to be upsetting. She had changed her will one day before she died, leaving the flat to Libby - the grand daughter whom she refused to be courteous to during her life, and on further delving into papers and journals Emma discovers an entire new life her mother had. Something totally unknown, disturbing, and in hindsight accountable for her mother's distorted way of living her life. The story was alarming, very tense, very emotional, disturbing but an excellent read of hidden elements in a person's life and how eventually they do surface - intentionally or unintentionally. Some things seem like fate, some things should be left buried but are somehow dug up and then you cant put it back in the box neatly. It disrupts everything from that moment on. I did not feel that the facts that were buried, but were deliberately opened helped to bring about peace and happiness at least not very much. The story is unusual. Disturbing but unusual. Sent by Agora Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Death on the Marais by Adrian Magson (Lucas Rocco No. 1)

1963 France and Inspector Rocco is not the most popular of people. Each chapter started with one of his seniors making a comment on Rocco - his tenacity, his rough attitude, his way of getting things done, his not sticking to protocol, regulations or procedure. A lone wolf. Transferred to a small village with no crime records, the worst that happens is a brawl between two drunken old men. On Rocco's arrival looked with distrust amongst villagers who feel he is an "outsider" the crimes start. The first victim is the daughter of one of France's most eminent citizens, though a shady character in his own right. Identified as Natalie Berbier no one in the police hierarchy wants to touch the case because of its powerful implications but when the body is whisked from the morgue back to Paris, Rocco moves in the only way he knows how. Uncovering plots which go back decades to the time of WWII and which no one wants to talk about - Resistance and Communists, also traitors to the cause and many deaths in the village, pieces slowly begin to unravel and the Police top dogs have to take action despite their initial unwillingness. Highlighting police detection though a trifle unorthodox, police corruption prevalent in every society uptil now, the story was an excellent read. I will be looking out for subsequent numbers. The setting is bleak, not picturesque at all but it all adds to the darkness of the story. A download from Amazon.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Damask Rose by Carol McGrath

The story begins with Eleanor as a Princess being held hostage and with great privations and distress, especially after she lost her baby daughter. The actual story was fascinating to read. How the Princess Eleanor who was very much loved by her husband became a strong Queen who was shrewd, calculating and persistent with her plans and even with long hidden animosities which were nurtured and acted upon at the opportune moment. Eleanor was the power behind the throne - a much heeded advisor to the King, who never felt shy about her feelings on any subject within the realm. Though very diplomatically as well. She was the mother of some sixteen children, many of whom died either as still births or in infancy and this made her wary of being overly affectionate or loving as a mother. Her maternal feelings came into play only when the children were very well grown up. She handed over children to her mother in law to bring up, because she always felt that her position was by the side of her husband - whether on Crusade or whether travelling the length and breadth of Britain. In this story the other character Olwen has a very prominent part to play - from being a herbalist, a doctor's daughter who could not aspire to be an apothecary even being a woman, she was also a designer of gardens. This endeared her to the Queen who had manors and castles all over the country and who wanted gardens in every style imaginable and herbal gardens as well in all her residences. Olwen was faithful and part of the Queen's entourage for years and her story held great interest in this book. The book though very full of historical detail was not dull in the least but was a lively account of the Royal Court in the 13th century. A download from Amazon.

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Lesson in murder by Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor Swift Book No. 7)

1921 and Lady Eleanor Swift has been invited to give an address to the girls as she is considered a rather prestigious old girl. Independent, adventurous and definitely not found elsewhere a rather sensible down to earth young woman who is also of the aristocracy. Very unusual combination for the time. When one of her most beloved teachers are found dead just before her speech and which turns the whole school upside down, Eleanor is called upon to privately investigate along with Clifford her butler who is a character in himself (and stories could be written from his point of view alone) to find out who did this. The school seemingly made up of staid, respectable teachers is anything but and Eleanor discovers plot upon plot with many suspects. It has to be whittled down and fast, because a second murder takes place. Entering the school as a relief was the only way Eleanor was able to access the school without suspicion and without incurring the wrath of its well heeled parents, who did not want even a whiff of scandal to touch their daughters at this elite school. Fighting the establishment and discovering clues was not an easy task but the inimitable Lady Eleanor does it all in her usual unflappable style. Loved the plot, the characters, the settings, the era, everything! Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

An Eligible Gentleman by Alice Chetwynd Ley

In the manner of a Georgette Heyer read, this was a nice read for those who like the genre. We have two girls - Phoebe and Eleanor. One being pressurised into marriage with her cousin who has absolutely no interest in her or marriage but unprepared for a determined mother. We have the other determined to help her friend out of this predicament with one idea after another. The ideas backfire, but the parents are thwarted and all ends well. Very simple, easy reading. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Beyond the Olive Grove by Kate Hewitt

I've read the scenario over a dozen times. Someone gets an unexpected inheritance in a far flung corner of the world (this time Greece) and you rush there to occupy, make a life for yourself, uprooting yourself almost completely. For me it sounds improbable but the fact that it is written about so much, it must be factual as well. Ava is in deep sorrow over her miscarriage. Her grief she feels is hers alone because her husband Simon comes across as cold and unfeeling. This she can no longer stand and her marriage is about to collapse. Inheriting a house in a Greek village from her grandmother who never ever spoke of her Greek ancestry, was unexpected and was the bolt hole she needed. That the house was closed for sixty years did not strike Ava as ominous. The story of Ava, her arrival in this tiny remote village, her attempts to make her house habitable and making friends with quiet reserved neighbours was not easy. Unravelling the past was worst. Just five people of her grandmothers generation survived and very few of them wanted to talk of the past. It was a bloody past filled with revenge and distrust, murder and an unforgiving one which traumatised those living even today. An interesting story told in two time lines outlining Ava's grandmother Sophia's days as a girl and then the present day as depicted in Ava's ti,e and her sadness and life as it was now. Sensitively handled a good read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Mrs. Lorimer's Quiet Summer by Molly Clavering

Mrs Lorimer and Miss Douglas were quiet friends. One a mother of a large family and a husband who was just stubborn, wanting his own way and Miss Douglas living a very fulfilled life on her own, doing exactly what she wanted and being a good friend to all. When the entire family descended on the Lorimer's Gray Douglas knew that her friend will need encouragement to deal with the myriad tensions and problems brought about by the young people and the irritation faced by Mr Lorimer when his routines and house were upset. One daughter having differences of opinion in a very silly manner with her husband was one and the youngest son facing issues after he was dumped by a long standing girl friend. How was Mrs Lorimer to give the support to her son, admonish her daughter, keep the peace in the household without being too interfering! An exemplary story for non interfering mothers and mothers in law, a solid book regarding enduring friendships this was a wonderful read recommended by one of the blogs I follow. Purchased from Amazon this was such a calm, energising book.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Her Deadly Touch by Lisa Regan (No 12 in the series)

Josie is getting back to her job as a Detective after a major trauma. She is hoping that the reintroduction will be slow and steady rather than being thrust in. On a personal visit to the cemetery she did not expect to find a woman sitting by a gravestone seemingly just sitting there but in reality murdered and brought there. The victim has been someone who faced tragedy along with a few other parents. Five children died in a school bus crash in the little town where Josie lives and life has never been the same for any of them. Marriages have crumbled, lives destroyed and the parents just exist day to day. The search for justice has to go on and when more victims pile up Josie and her team realise that though the common factor is the bus crash, there is much more beneath the simmering anger and resentment and there are many victims here and many suspects. Typical to this author the book is a suspense laden, page turning read. The deductions and procedures followed meticulous and the investigations extremely good. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Steal by M J Rose and C W Gortner

France 1957. The Cannes Film Festival all that is glittering, fashionable and very in is there. Jeremy is also there in his capacity as an insurance agent. Ania Thorne carrying on the legacy of her father the diamond merchant of impeccable taste and design now forced to retire and she has ably taken over. She did not envisage a robbery of all her priceless pieces in Paris of all places. The setting of an impossibly well planned robbery meticulously arranged and to Jerome bears all the hallmarks of the infamous Leopard who has never been sighted. The story follows the diamonds and Jerome always one step ahead of the Leopard trying to outsmart him with the rest of the diamond pieces brought over for those that were robbed. The ultimate unveiling was a bit unbelievable but the story was fast paced and entertaining. Sent by Blue Box Press, Author Buzz for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber (*****)

I am a fan of Anna Lee Huber. The fact that I've not read many of her books is because I've not been able to access them easily. The setting, the style of Verity - her flair, unusual boldness and independence in the time of stultifying feminine expectations especially since she did come from an upper class of society all added to the verve in the book (s). Verity has worked for the Secret Service during WWII. Bound by the Official Secrets Act no one other than her husband and colleagues know exactly the demanding work she undertook. Her mother thinks the family has been ignored because Verity was being a social butterfly in London. This has caused a deep rift further heightened because Verity has not come home for five years since the death of her beloved brother Rob. For Verity the wounds are too raw to face a home without her beloved brother. In this story with the antagonism against anything German at its height, Verity's German aunt and her maid descend on London unexpectedly with worries of their own. Taking her aunt to the family home in a small village with strong anti German feelings was not the best scenario but the best that Verity and Sydney could undertake. A secret of years past, a vendetta on the part of the Germans, antagonism of locals and suspicion against Verity herself from the village where she grew are all part of this very attractive package wrapped up in the most beautiful writing. So very grateful to Kensington Books, Kensington for sending this on to me, for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Spanish House by Cherry Radford

Ideal reading for present times. Everyone is in lockdown and you really do not want to have more doom and gloom. Maybe escapist reading but it is entertaining and quite descriptive. Juliana is offered a gorgeous opportunity for change. In Spain house sitting with a list of repairs and conditions to be done to the house and elsewhere to gain ownership of a coveted property. Will anyone bypass this opportunity. It seems too good to be true and in the process of painting, repairing and generally following Uncle Arturo's list Juliana comes up with obstacles from neighbours, romance and finding out lost or rather hidden family skeletons which were firmly buried till now. The book was a good read, warm and entertaining. Sent by Aria & Aries, Aria for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ancient History by Sophie Penhaglion

Athena is the only child and brought up in a well protected and loved atmosphere. When they suffer an accident under extra ordinary circumstances in Crete and when both of them are killed, Athena returns to her Oxford roots to try to make a start of her life without them. Athena had a suspicion that everything was not quite what it was with the death of her parents. Meeting the enigmatic Patrice very much man about town who befriends Athena and becomes her lover and indicates that other than sex, he has no interest in any kind of relationship. Hovering in the background is Dr. Jack Latimer, whom she met at her uncle's home and whom she heard having arguments with her uncle. When he turns up in Oxford as her Professor the coincidence seems too much, but Athena is a bit naive and accepts that it is just a coincidence. The story dealing with artefacts from Egypt and the lucrative trade in them and how unwittingly Athena and her father have become part of this and how many people are on her tail trying to see whether she knows anything about the piece missing and which belongs to a museum in Egypt and which is being pursued by both good and bad guys. Athena becomes the magnet because both sides know that it has to be somewhere which she may knowingly or unwittingly know of. Set in Oxford, Crete and Paris all three settings unimaginably lovely the story was a good one. Athena is a bit naive for a grown up woman but the story was good. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Paris Wife by Meghan Masterson

1865 Paris is in a turbulent state. Livia is a simple young woman, a doctor's daughter married and expecting her first child finds herself with a reserved, distant husband trying to find her feet in Paris. Longing for home when she is befriended by Elisabetta, the Emperor's mistress. Elisabetta herself has been sent from Turin to spy for her Italian masters and though beautiful and talented she is not the only one to hold the Emperor's interest. When Elisabetta takes Livia as a friend, Livia slowly begins to relax and feel that she can make Paris her second home. However Elisabetta is with enemies and when Livia who is well versed in poisons discovers on one occasion a dish of berries mixed with deadly nightshade she knows that someone is either trying to get rid of Elisabetta or through her kill the Emperor. When Elisabetta is once again poisoned this time with doctored brandy, Livia has to draw on all her knowledge to get her friend out of danger. The tables are turned when Elisabetta accuses Livia's husband and brother and a friend of the assault. Imprisoned and without influence Livia must use all her wit to get her husband out of prison and clear his name. The story was one of Livia and her husband trying to get into a closer relationship because their marriage was one of convenience. How adversity brings them together and how Livia begins to understand her reserved husband better is part of the story. It is the history undoubtedly which takes precedence over the personal story. Set within Napoleon III's era it is full of intrigue and always full of plots to overthrow him. Added to this was that each chapter began with a description of a common poison - its appearance, its symptoms and its final outcome. It added a piquancy to the story. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Home In The Sun by Sue Moorcroft

This was a delightful story set in Malta in part and in England. Judith has established herself in Malta for the last four years. She has found love with Giorgio and although there are drawbacks (he will not publicly acknowledge her in keeping with the customs of his family despite being separated from his wife for fourteen years) Judith is undoubtedly happy. She has a stake in her uncle's business, she has made investments with Giorgio's travel company and she finds the climate, the general joie de vivre of Malta bright and cheerful and uplifting. When Giorgio dies suddenly, she is bereft especially when she realises how alone she has become and she now decides to return home to England. This was not a success. Her sister is set in her ways, seems to have plenty of issues in her own marriage and then Judith is told that her investment with Giorgio's company is a write off so she seeks part time employment as well as tries to get her house back which she gave on rent. The solitude she craves for to grieve in private is not to be with everyone from her sister with her troubles, to her step son and then her ex husband weighing heavily on her mentally. Judith knows for her own sanity she has to get rid of them all if she is to come out of her period of mourning in one piece and sane! The ups and downs of family life, helping one another in crisis, the chauvinistic attitudes of some males which never seem to change and Judith's own fighting spirit of survival is well shown in this delightful novel. The romance also helps! Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Bookshop Murder (Flora Steele Mystery Book 1) by Merryn Allingham

A 1950s setting in a quiet English village and of all my favourite places a bookshop. Seems idyllic but when a young man's body is found coshed in her bookshop Flora is puzzled. She has no clue as it his identity, he then is revealed to be a new comer to the village - a visitor from Australia and the links are tenuous to this small village. I usually like the setting of these stories and even the slower pace of detective work in the form of procedures and regulations which are somewhat slower and more "plodding" for want of a better term. With lack of hi tech innovative tecqniques that are available for detection now the stories are somewhat charming nevertheless. This however was a little different. It seemed that Flora to whom the task of uncovering the victim's purpose and then also the murderer was a bit too naive at most times. It was also strange how the police were quite willing to pass the murder off as a death by a heart attack and not pursue the fact that a strange person was found in totally unrelated surroundings dead. I found this slightly unbelievable. The man was young, healthy and to be found just dead and with no post mortem or enquiry being done just did not sound plausible in England. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Woods of St Francis Mystery (Book No. 6 in the Inspector Knowles series)

A cozy set in Goat Parvo with two retrievers acting as detectives Banjo and Bingo, the usual host of village characters and plenty of bodies. A twist in the tale because the victims are following a certain pattern. The first one has the initials AB the second CD and it continues. Will anyone who has sequential letters be at risk and how can the detectives provide protection and prevent any further mayhem and murder. The reasons for the murder are indistinct - coult it be an environmentalist group angry over the destruction of trees, is a football club involved because that seems to be a common factor in the murders and then there is a well established artists cooperative where many clues are found. Left to the detectives to solve this mystery in the charming atmosphere of an English village with such interesting, sometimes eccentric characters. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Singing Trees by Boo Walker

Annalisa and Thomas come from two different worlds. Annalisa though poor is from a huge, loving Italian origin family all caring for each other and sometimes overpoweringly stifling. Annalisa unfortunately does not fit into the groove expected of her - to grow up, get a local job, get married and have babies. She wants more, especially after she saw her mother's life and how her mother's dreams were trampled by her father who did not allow her mother to have any life of her own. Annalisa finds Payton Mills closing in on her and only wants to get out to Portland, the closest city to her home to pursue her dream of the arts. To get tutored properly, to have a chance at being exposed and influenced by great artists and in turn to have a chance to showcase her own work. Annalisa knows she is good but she does need finishing touches and she is not going to get it in the backwaters of Payton Mills. Pursuing her dream with determination she succeeds to a point but then life threw a spanner in the works. She falls pregnant and with Thomas away on secondment in Vietnam, no backing at all from Thomas's family she is faced with bringing up Celia on her own. The story of Annalisa's grit and determination even with setbacks and practical difficulties not to give up on her dream, despite her never failing out of love with Thomas despite his so called indifference, the attitude of his family is admirable. Survival, putting aside feelings to reach your original goal is foremost in her mind and this she achieves very well. Love does happen but only after the bitter hatred and jealously of those who are supposed to be family is shown as the reason for Thomas and Annalisa's breakup. That was a shocker as it came from an unexpected source. The story set in 1969 with its overtones of Woodstock, hippies, a freer lifestyle, Vietnam and protests was an intriguing one. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Tea Time at Grosvenor Square (for fans of Bridgerton)

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and Bridgerton and past days this is one for you. Seventy Five delightful receipes ranging from sandwiches with their crusts cut off, to scones, clotted cream and various jams and then on to the cakes and petit fours of the time this is a must read if not to cook to at least drool over. I thoroughly enjoyed the precise and beautifully descriptive receipes. Sent by Skyhorse Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Wind Chime by Alexandra Walsh

Amelia has had more than her share of grief. She lost her mother, father and then her young daughter Molly within a few years. She has been coping with illness and death for so long that she now feels that a proper retreat of some kind is necessary. She also comes across whilst clearing and cleaning out instructions from her mother to clear out the attic. Discovering that the attic was cleared and clean, only a few boxes very neatly packed leaves Amelia puzzled. Together with her friends who have stood behind her throughout her difficult days, she comes across a box of letters, photographs and memorablia which speak of unknown people, names which have a connection though indistinct and intriguing photographs. She also discovers her mother's will through her lawyer leaving her a inheritance of seven cottages which leaves Amelia very comfortably off for the rest of her days. The story told in two sections of Pembrokeshire 1893 and present day 2019 London are in itself different. The stories of 1893 deal with a family well established, in trade and very comfortably off but with a chequered history and very complicated characters. That those characters were related to her mother is obvious and why her mother never spoke about them is what puzzles Amelia the most. She seeks to solve the mystery. Present day 2019 Amelia is coming to terms with her losses, then she meets Edward part of the Pembrokeshire clan and she has to reconcile her feelings of today, with the history that she is faced with and which is not quite right and at times very unsavoury. A little bit of the faery and magical mixed in the history of the story, the two time lines and the vast amount of history of the families involved added to the complicated story leading to the present times. May not be for everyone, as it was so many strands of a family but brought together the book was a page turner for me. Characterization was spot on, very descriptive at every turn it kept me going wanting to find out what happened to all the characters of 1890s. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 6, 2021

What's Left Unsaid by Emily Bleeker

Hannah is trying to put the pieces of her life together living with her grandmother in a small town of Senotobia. Hannah had been rejected by her partner of many years totally unexpectedly and this pushed her into a breakdown. She lost her job as a journalist and is now filling in at the local rag covering odd events and at the beck and call of a very conservative owner. When given the task of clearing out a basement of old files, Hannah stumbles upon a story of a young woman reaching out to the agony aunt of this same paper decades ago - a story of love, trauma and a shooting which left her paralysed and forgotton. Hannah is intrigued by the story and tries to unravel the history of this young woman. In doing so she unsuspectingly steps on the toes of an influential family who wants the story to stay hidden so as to keep the unsavoury secrets of their own family safely hidden. When Hannah is determined to pursue the story she meets with unforeseeable opposition. Very well written the story is documented carefully - especially the story of Emily which Hannah unearths from hidden documents. Justice is sought for the dead Emily and Hannah is vindicated for her journalistic prowess. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Best Thing About Bennett by Irene Wittig

Bennett Hall has lived a rather uneventful life. Living with a mother and an Aunt who was dominant, pressurised Bennett into doing exactly as she wanted she has moulded Bennett into a compliant woman with no will or interests of her own. When Bennett decides to get rid of the enormous house that she lived in all her life, with all its furnishings, she steps out of her comfort zone into a world of strangeness - a world where she can decide what she wants to do next. For Bennett however this is not easy. She has no idea what she wants to do, has no desires or longings of her own to fulfill and is hesitant to even try out anything new. Her adventure starts with buying a ordinary house in a quiet neighbourhood and then befriending a neighbour. This sets off a chain of events which will bring adventure, love and a new focus in her life. It is an idealistic way of looking at the way Bennett's life changes - all for the better, with a few initial hiccups on the way. It made for easy reading as well. It is an ideal read to take on vacation. You can pick up where you left off without any worries. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Clockmaker's Wife by Daisy Wood

Two time lines both full of adventure. 1940 London. and present day New York. Ellie has returned home to a sick mother. Her mother has always been different from other mums according to Ellie. She now sees that there is a fair amount of family history that her mother is keeping silent about. Now in stage four of a cancer treatment Ellie drags a reluctant mother to divulge even a few tidbits about her father, his second marriage, her grandmother and relations she knows nothing about. Going back to 1940 Ellie's grandmother Nell was happily married to Arthur who was working in a most unusual place. Handling Big Ben in London and ensuring that everything went well. It was a complicated and a responsible job but with WWII hovering over the horizon Nell had to leave her beloved Arthur and go live in the countryside. When Arthur disappeared, the local Lord of the manor seemed to be somehow involved and Nell would not give up her search for her husband whom she knew to be loyal and true to his country despite anything anyone said. It led her to a dangerous situation not just for Arthur but for herself. Fast forward to present day Ellie and her search for some kind of history of her family. She unearths the plot where Arthur and poor Nell were involved. Their loyalty to the country and how it was rolled under the carpet and makes sure both of them are remembered for their services to the nation. Ellie is able to slowly recover traces of the story of what actually happened and reconcile with her London family on the way as well. All ended well. An interesting take on a family in WWII London then moving on to present day New York and then moving back to London again. Like all WW stories this had so much history, so much sacrifice (unknown and unspoken of) and one begins to realise it is not the published and the known heroes at a time like this, but the unsung and unspoken stories that always abound. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Mystery at the Church by Clare Chase (No 6 in the series)

It is full blown excitement to have a TV crew filming in the small sleepy village of Saxford St Peter. Celebrities abound and the village people are also taken in as extras for various scenes. Life is very exciting and full at the moment. It takes a turn when one of the celebrities are killed and the whole film crew and village are under scrutiny. Eve and her daschund Gus both keen detectives are able to find out much more than the detectives on the case. Eve has been on the TV site, has befriended many of those working there and her keen skills are much better than the oafish Detective Palmer whom we have seen in action before. Altogether a well put together cozy mystery murder. Bodies, suspicion galore, lots of suspects and a winding trail. A good stand alone in the series. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, August 30, 2021

A Lyon's Pride by Emily Royal

It seemed like a good arrangement. He wanted a rich wife, she wanted respectability and a father to her two girls. She knew England was not a country that was going to let her girls stand a chance without the legitimacy of two parents. She was willing to sacrifice anything for the twins. What she did not take into account that the partner that was set up for her, was the love of her life who deserted her for an aristocratic wife so many years ago. It was a light hearted romance. Just nice for a Sunday afternoon reading. The setting was descriptive and romantic and I like the way the town and countryside were both described. Everything worked out nicely after a few initial hitches, like all good romances do. Sent by DragonBlade Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

In The Mirror A Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick

A girl born and brought up in India and it is now 1938 where India is at the crossroads of an independence struggle. The British are not wanted and Florence has to go home. She who has only known the warmth and color of the tropics is expected to conform to a rigorous insular life with her aunt and make a life for herself. Her father seems unconcerned about her, just feels she has let him down by not shining at whatever he expected her to do. Florence's is clever with a bent for mathematics and engines - things which are not considered feminine enough and despite her long stint of work with machines and in a supervisory capacity in a factory is not taken much notice of when she does apply to follow a line of studies. Florence's story told between the time lines of Agra 1938 and Portsmouth 1953 could not be more of a contrast and she struggles to lift her head above water and to make something of herself and her life. Subjugated by a husband who is a bully, with no family support of any kind she and her son Robert have to find a way to survive. The story is very descriptive in both countries - and shows how difficult it was for Britishers who had lived in the East for so long to try to adapt to a country which they were strangers to and to a lifestyle they were not familiar with. Heartbreak, derogatory attitudes faced by Florence would have broken many women but Florence strives to survive knowing that a better future could be got. The story was very rich in both emotion (sad, tense and happy) as well as very evocative of places where it took place. Sent by Agora Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus by Ayse Osmanoglu

I've just binge watched Magnificient Century so it was very apt that I got this book. Set in the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire where their sheer power from the time of Suleyman has been greatly diminished, we are dealing with the family of Murad V whose thrown was seized by his brother, but fortunately unlike before, he was not murdered, he was just exiled to the beautiful Ciragan Palace for a period of twenty eight years and he eventually died there. The story of Murad, his son and his grand son and the story starts with the blessings of his first great grandson. What the future holds for this little prince is shaky and unknown. Murad has lived in the shadows for so long, and the whole family along with him. None of his children or grand children, his wives consorts sisters have known the outside world but they have not rebelled against these strict rules. When Murad dies, the ties seem to loosen a little and the family has access to their extended family at last. Added to this is the Sultan's sisters indiscretion and the far reaching implications of the love affa The story of the day to day life of an exiled family, living in luxury nevertheless and trying to accept their fate in the best possible manner is this book. It was very good reading - both from a historical point of view, as well as a family saga. It marked the end of a dynasty and the beginning of constituitional reform in Turkey. The research and detail is meticulous and immensely educative as well as interesting. Written by a family member who is a history graduate as well, the story epitomises all that is good for history buffs. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesyof Netgalley.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Silence in the Library by Katherine Schellman (Lily Adler series)

Lily is not the average Regency type lady. Now widowed, just coming out of mourning she has been unexpectedly, unpleasantly surprised by the visit of her father without any notice. Her father and Lily do not get on at all. Lily feels that she will never compare or come up to the expectations of a son and her father frowns on every aspect of Lily's life - from her clothes to her company, to the way the house is run and just about everything. Lily loves her home, and the peace and contentment that is there and all this is disrupted by her father. On a visit to see a newly married woman (at the behest of her father) who disapproves that someone married again after the death of his spouse Lily is once again thrown headlong into another murder investigation. Finding Sir Charles dead was bad enough but having to declare it was murder, and to be the person who found the murder weapon was hard. Especially in Regency society who preferred to sweep everything under the carpet, find some innocent bystander or workman to bear the brunt of the crime and whoever actually did it to literally escape with murder. Sadly for the Wyatt family who have many secrets to hide, Lily and her side kick Captain Jack, along with Mr. Page the Bow Street runner who was in charge of the case are not willing to compromise on their principles. Mr. Page is an unusual Detective. He is not open to bribery or to look the other way where the aristocracy is concerned and the investigation plods on. Plenty of diversions, another hapless victim found murdered, another son discovered, then another illegitimate daughter discovered and the net closes in. This was vintage detective genre - one I like very much. Set in Regency England with a bit of history thrown in, just a smidgeon of romance to keep us going till the next book appears this was a good entertaining read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Death at Hungerford Stairs by J C Briggs (Charles Dickens mystery No 2)

London 1849 and surprisingly there seems to be two different cities in one. One is where the rich, the famous live. Bright, sparkly, with all mod cons and a very comfortable lifestyle and then you get the slums and the alleys of dirt, death, every vice possible and more. It is an eye opener and it is on this that Charles Dickens and Inspector Jones concentrate on. Young boys start to go missing - three of them so far and a tiny puncture near their heart shows that the murderer knows what he is doing. The boys are those working in the slums so the suspect could be anybody but when Dickens and Jones get on to the case they start connecting the dots with the toffs, with a milliner who works for the aristocracy and then another picture is shown but to get a conviction with solid evidence is proving to be more elusive. Written with meticulous attention to detail the detective series is one of its kind. Vintage detection procedure, set against a squalid background with very little resources available to the detectives this is a must read for lovers of history, for those that like the detective genre and for those who would like to know a bit more about Charles Dickens himself. Highly recommended. Download from Amazon. Thank you.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Loch Down Abbey by Beth Cowan Erskine

The 1930s and set in a town in Scotland, the story surrounds the inhabitants of the local aristocracy and they are a callous, strange lot. A disease is striking Scotland and people are falling down like ninepins but all they are concerned with is of the inconvenience of looking after the children after Nanny has so inconsiderably fallen down dead and now staff are falling sick. The possibility of even considering making their own beds, reducing the number of trips that maids have to take to bring and take tea trays and the horror of reducing the number of cakes at tea from six to three are some of the major problems faced by this family. The head housekeeper is the only sane being in the lot and when the Lord of this manor is found dead, she is the only one concerned enough to do some private sleuthing because something does smell rotten. No one else is bothered. Since no one is allowed in or out of the house due to the illness sweeping the village it is apparent that the suspected murderer is one of their own. Unravelling the mystery with no help from the family and still having to run the house with no apparent shortcomings is a herculean task. The true color of the relations come to the fore with the death of the Lord especially when his will is read and the skeletons come out of the cupboard. The family is facing bankruptcy and the sale of the manor is the only way out, something that most of them cannot get their heads around and their hearts to accept. Tongue in cheek British humour at its best, the bunch of characters are so varied that the mix of them is what is best in the story. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King

Vespaciano was a trail blazer. From his studio he produced a prolific number of books all detailing intricate work of miniaturists as well as the best scribes possible to detail a voluminous number of books sought by people who appreciated art, literature, education of the mind in every form. This was in 1422. In the midst of it all in 1480 came the massive shift in the book world. From painstaking scripts hand written to the printing of books. This made books accessible to a wider populace but it also (like anything new) created a rebellion of sorts in the book world. This was a detailed and well thought out book. At the same time it will not appeal to all. The voluminous amount of detail which made up the history of this story is great. It is history, literature, art and so much more. There are a lot of characters one has to keep track but my interest never waned. It also takes time to read and consume. The book was detailed and intense. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Lasting Spring by Jean Stubbs

Described as a war time saga this was so much more. A family story both pre and during the War and the pressures that were faced by each of the Fawley family members as they try to come to grips with a new world opening at their feet. New attitudes, new developments, different roles for women and men and the difficulties in adapting to them. Dorothy has just entered into a second marriage with Gilbert also a widower. Both have young children and it is the first thing that was different - they got on famously! In Michael Evelyn a shy girl found the companion and brother she needed and he proved to be her strength throughout. Dorothy her step mother was not unkind, but did not really understand the girl and her father Gilbert had his own set ways of looking at the world. The story progresses with the start of WWII and the complications of as first Michael the son goes off to join the Airforce, Gilbert joins the civilian force in charge of protection and Dorothy, a born organiser finds a niche for herself (something that she has solely missed all these years of being a wife and mother). Evelyn continues with her studies at the Music Academy finding love and heart break on the way The difficulties of loss, bereavement which is so hard on the whole family and still the need to just go on is well written in this story. War settings always have losses and each story is handled so well. Very descriptive of the area in which the Fawleys lived, it brings this small village to life. The changes wrought in those who go to fight and return. They are never the same people. But then neither are those who stayed behind to support and prop the family amidst such hard circumstances. The book was sent by Sapere Books for an honest review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Murders at Foxglove Close by Rose Temple (Book 1 in series)

Jemima a police constable, moved to a quiet village seeking peace, quiet, no judgemental neighbours and wanting to live a quieter paced life. She did not expect such nosy neighbours who would monitor her every move, describe all her actions on a neighbourhood Whatsapp group (which she has joined under an assumed name!) and then get dragged into a murder which develops into murders just down the road. Despite the murders, there is a lot of humour and plenty of action of every kind - from the free wheeling marital high jinks in a seemingly conservative village to characters of every kind. It all adds to the interest and expands the story to cover so much of interest that your attention never wavers. It was a light hearted cozy mystery, set in idyllic surroundings but with human elements of greed, bad decisions and very human mistakes. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Dying Day by Vaseem Khan (Malabar House No. 2)

Another book by this brilliant author which takes us into the world of post British India. Persis Wadia is the only woman Police Inspector in India and boy has she got to face discrimination, snide remarks, looks and worse. Persis a Parsee (a small forward thinking minority community) has the support of her father but her Aunt who has looked after her since the death of her mother finds it tough to accept Persis's role in the masculine world she occupies. On the one hand Persis herself knows that she is going to find it singularly difficult to find a partner. But at the same time, her career is important to her and she is not going to allow anything to get in her way. The case of a missing book worth millions starts the case going, with the main protagonist going missing. He is an erudite scholar and it is only through the sheer brilliant workings of Persis's mind that she unravels the cryptic clues he leaves behind. A mix of detection and knowledge of the classics slowly unwinds the puzzle, and with the murder of a white woman (uncommon in post British India) the pressure is on to solve the case. When Italian diplomats also get involved in the case, it is obvious that big money is also somehow involved and it is a running battle for Persis with the reluctant help of her colleagues to prevent more murders and find out who is behind the robbery. A fascinating look at colonial India (post Colonial actually) with all the workings and administration as it were before. I loved this story (my second read of Persis's exploits). With all the inhibitions and difficulties of 1950s India. Sent to me by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Murder at the Fair (Lady Eleanor Swift Book No. 6) by Verity King.

Lady Eleanor Swift is not the average aristocrat found in 1921 England. She is kind, just and fair by all. She sees equality is something sadly missing from English society and wants to find a way to fit it into her own life and those who work for her. This makes her stand out, she is known for her quirky and independent views and it does not go down very well with some members of the aristocracy in her county. Lady Eleanor also seems to be drawn into murders, like a magnet and these seem to follow her around. In this episode she is the chief guest at a summer fair, a position her uncle gladly held but when a raft race which was supposed to be fun (and was very competitive amongst the village turned deathly Lady Eleanor was drawn into the investigation despite the local cops marking it out as an accidental death. The story is straight forward but all the characters were so interesting from the Lady herself, to her suitors to the butler, to her varied staff as well as the villagers themselves. It added heaps of interest to the story and made it seem so alive and vibrant. The book though part of a series can be read as a stand alone. I like the series and only hope I will have the opportunity to read the others in this. Sent by Bookouture for a honest review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Master of Measham Hall by Anna Abney

1665 England and the plague engulfs the entire land. Communities are suspicious of any newcomers especially those coming from London. Alethea though she would like to be at her own home, due to her stepmother and her father's inability to stand up for her is at her aunt's house quite safe from the illness. Alethea is awaiting her brother's return after exile and when a message arrives that he is awaiting her, she goes to meet him, not knowing that her aunt in a way to get rid of her has arranged for her to disappear on the journey. Alethea then finds herself penniless, abandoned and needs to find her way back to her family. The adventures of Alethea first with a man she meets at a pub (fortunately not someone who seduced her and then abandoned her) and then meeting up with a group of religious people who were led by Samuel and who went from place to place preaching placed her in care till she fell in love with Samuel and discovered she was expecting a baby. Knowing that she would have to now fend for herself and her child, she and a companion return to her family home, and she now dons the guise of her brother William and does it so well that she hoodwinks practically everyone whom she comes in contact with. The story continues how Alethea (now William) continue with the camoflauge despite William returning to the family home and the ramifications of maintaining this facade throughout. An interesting story dealing with religious divides, a family divided on religious grounds and the constant greed for property which threw families apart. Sent by Duckworth Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.