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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.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

A Family Affair by Julie Houston

The writing was in the style of Joanna Trollope, an author I've always enjoyed. Set in a Yorkshire village, the family of Italian origin has set up a pickles and preserves and jam industry famous all over, branched out even to America and now needs a new infusion of blood. Frankie after having disappeared to Sicily for years after a disastrous love affair now finds herself back home in a niche in the family business, butting heads with her brother Luca who seems resentful of the welcome given to his sister and with a grandfather who does not like innovation and a father who is willing to go along as everything runs peacefully. Frankie wants to contribute her bit to the business, not just be a figurehead in the directorate and she gets down to it right away. An American brought in to contribute does not help either and her former lover appearing on the scene makes her want to put her running shoes on. Her aunt whose retirement from the business, was the reason she came in is also very much part of the story. It is very much a family saga covering three generations, going back and forth because it was the decisions of decades past that is now affecting the grand children of today. Nothing can be changed or rectified, whether mistakes or not but all are determined to go forward. Descriptive of Yorkshire and its inhabitants (something I know little of) was part of the charm of this story. Characterization was varied and added so much interest. Sent by Aria & Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Librarian of Saint Malo by Mario Escobar

France 1939 turbulent, not a very good place to be. Not for those Frenchmen who were loyal to France. Nazis ruled the land and their word was law. Saint Malo was for a time left alone but gradually the infiltration came in. Joceylyn and Antoine were lovers - first blighted by her illness, then Antoine was sent to fight, sent to a camp, came back a broken man. They were very much in love but their happiness was fleeting. Joceylyn was in charge of the library and this was an unusual library - it had many volumes of rare manuscripts and this was what was going to be the catalyst of Joceylyn's life as it attracted the greedy and mercenary eyes of a Nazi Captain who whilst pretending it was for the benefit of Germany, really wanted to grab them for himself as his passport out of Europe. After Antoine's death Joceylyn worked for the Resistance in whatever ways possible, but her main focus was with her books. Joceylyn felt that her entire life's mission was to protect the library to the end, and despite evacuation, hardships and severe testing of the spirit, she did not abandon Saint Malo. Detailing the days of occupation in a series of letter to someone in Paris with the hope that it will eventually get published Jocelyn stayed on till Saint Malo was freed from the Germans, but sadly perished on the final day. One is left pondering whether sacrificing your life for the sake of books is something to be admired, or worried/pitied over. Jocelyn literally sacrificed her life for the sake of the library. An open ended question here. Outlining in detail the history of Saint Malo during German occupation was the historical part of the story. Joceylyn's story was the rest. The book was sent by Thomas Nelson for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French

Ellen is not an impulsive person. Everything is thought out through and planned so there are no unpleasant surprises. This was what hit her hard when her husband of twenty years walked out on her - his complaint was that she was predictable, in other words boring. She has also lost her parents and is now trying to come to terms with loss as a thing itself. She wants her life to be better, to be more meaningful and having inherited a beach cottage she decides to go there, clean it out with the intention of selling it. On impulse she invites her friend Lara, now sick with a bout of a recurrence of cancer, needing treatment and a friend. Ellen did not envisage that the flamboyant Lara will gather together like minded souls in the cancer clinic she attends and her little coterie meets at the cottage and though Ellen tries to keep away from the group, she is invariably drawn into their thoughts, their activities and their day to day life. At Lara's insistence Ellen joins a writer's group to try to rekindle the author in her, she knows is buried deep within and also puts Ellen on a dating site (for Ellen this is the worst thing that could happen to her!). Gradually Ellen's barriers come down and she realises that life is for living and for taking what comes your way and making the best of whatever is given. Learning lessons from the group of survivors from cancer, she applies these to her own self. This was a coming of age story, though the character was middle aged and not a youngster. Enlightening read. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Casey at 31 just wants to live the life she envisaged. Wracked by sadness at the death of her mother, desolate with a broken love affair she waits tables and at the same time tries her best to finish the novel she started writing and with six years gone, she knows she has to do it now or its never going to happen. Having two men in love with her added to Casey's stress and the debts she was burdened with left Casey feeling pressurized to the hilt. Whilst all her friends were married, having children, having careers Casey felt that she was somehow left behind in the race to do something worthwhile. The story meanders on in this way, Casey alternately coming to grips with her situation and then almost going under with the pressure and sadness faced by most modern women - the having it all, the balancing of family and career and the appearances that are so important and to do what society considers right and correct. A rather emotional roller coaster for Casey and for the reader. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall

Paislee Shaw is a single mum, owner of a sweater and yarn shop and supports herself and son, plus grandfather and Wallace the dog. When she is pressurised with one months notice to give up her lease on her prime situation shop, she and the other tenants all equally pressurized by the situation has to come up with a plan to meet their elusive landlord. He does not respond to letters or telephone calls and although he is rumoured to live in the village pile, his whereabouts are unknown and no sightings of him at all. When Paislee accompanies her son along with a group of school children to the aristocratic home of her landlord and his mother, her main focus was on collaring Shawn Marcus and forcing him to see reason. She did not envisage to be the witness of a murder, be then suspected in the murder and then get inveigled into an investigation of the murder promoted by Shawn's mother herself the Lady Leery who asks Paislee to go detect the history of these murders, mainly of course of clearing her son's name. The series deals with Paislee (who is in a bit of a time management fix) with love interests from both the Detective as well as the Head Master and finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time a bit too often. The setting is charming, the characters even more so, the villains are villainous and the story rolls along with many, many suspects. A cozy which aptly lives upto the description. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Secretary by Catherine Hokin

Germany 1940. Magda is in a very high position as Secretary to Himmler. She appears to her fellow citizens as a traitor, despicable and despised but she has by sheer grit come to this position to get information and help her fellow citizens. Fast forward forty years and her grand daughter is now in East Berlin acting in the same manner as her grandmother and creating dissension amongst the East German police, and trying to protect her fellow countrymen. Magda despite her connections cannot save Nina and Nina is imprisoned. Nina trying to trace her family's enigmatic history stumbles upon the Tower House, from a drawing found in her grandmother's cupboard and the whole story of Magda's past trickles out. The house was originally owned by Jews, requisitioned by Himmler and given to Magda for "good behavior". Magda hated it, did not want to have anything to do with it and did not talk about it to her family. The story with this setting was emotional and tense. It also showed how for the spirit of survival even family can split, and for the same spirit of survival it can sacrifice everything for the sake of another. The story is sad because for me the whole loss of actually life to the full is deprived in situations like this, people make do, sacrifice, live on the bare minimum for the sake of loyalty to ties of family, politics and in the case of nazis, even to their own beliefs in their systems. The racism that was so alive and kicking in that day is sadly evident today as well in other forms. The story was an eye opener. I had a problem with posting and did the review only on Goodreads as the reviews were piling up. This book was kindly sent to me by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Strictly Murder (Verity Long Mysteries No. 1) by Lynda Wilcox

Verity is harmless but tends to land herself in unwanted troubles. On a house hunt for a place to live, she inspects a flat and finds a dead body - and a celebrity to boot. Verity finds herself as a suspect in the murder herself and gets drawn into the world of theatre, lots of stars all bitchy and all not appearing as nice as they look (though there are are some very handsome ones in the mix). Verity works for a crime fiction writer. Her job is to ferret out old crimes and get all the information on them so that her boss can formulate a story out of them. The author is a very successful one and the formula seems to have worked all this time. This time around in the ferreting of information, Verity herself is in the line of fire as there are people not happy with the way inquiries are going. A cosy crime mystery (with a few too many strands to connect) and also a touch of romance to lighten it up this made for interesting reading. Downloaded from Amazon.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Death In Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

The story set in Daylesford a spa town and supposed to be a holiday for Phyrne is really a busman's holiday. Thrown headlong into mystery (and murder) Phyrne unravels everything in a delightful manner much to the annoyance of the local constable. There is a mystery of disappearing women, and then there is a series of murders almost right in front of everyone. On the other side of Victoria, Phyrne's three wards are solving a mystery of their own under the guidance of Hugh Collins. Loved the style of writing, as well as all the characters that went into making this story. The ease with which Phyrne deals with villains and gentlemen alike is mesmerizing! Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I had a technical problem on my blog and could not post reviews, hence the delay in posting this. My regrets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Crooked In His Ways by S M Godwin

Albert Beauchamp disappears and appears a year later - but in a crate in New Orleans, very well salted. Inspector Lightner alias Lord Jasper and Hieronymus Law are the detectives on the case. Investigations reveal that Albert was a very unsavory character. Blackmail was his chosen occupation and he bled many not just the high and mighty but even the humble and poor till they were left with nothing. Suspects abounded and many were glad that he was dead but justice had to be meted out. On the other hand Inspector had his own burdens. Disliked by the powers that were in the New York City Police because of his background, his cleverness, his free of corruption and the inability to be bribed reputation - the Police Force were considered the most corrupt in the country, Lightner had to fight a lone battle along with Law and a few supporters to find out who the killers were. The closer he got to the killer, the worse and more dangerous it became. I found Jasper to be a character to be much admired for his simplicity, his style and elegance. Law was a perfect foil. Liked the setting too of 1856 New York. I could not post this on my blog due to some technical problem and this has hence got delayed. I am grateful to Crooked Lane Books for sending this to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Bad Popes by E R Chamberlain

I took this book a long time ago, and it got pushed further and further into the TBR pile. It was an intriguing story how the foremost authority in the Catholic church over a period of six centuries did everything possible against their faith - from murder, to fathering children, to intrigues, from financial irregularities and still held the position of Pope. Interesting story almost like fiction, but nevertheless certainly a true tale. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Hunting the Wren by Susanna M. Newstead

When Geoffrey Celest, the finest astrologer west of London dies, he passes on the entire business to his faithful apprentice Bennet. Bennet relishes the responsibility of the job, the work and diplomacy it entails and is prepared to follow in his master's footsteps. He did not expect the issue of celibacy to be hard, neither did he expect to get involved very quickly in a spin of murder, blackmail and general mayhem. Though dealing in astrology and the stars, and making of charts the story was a light and easy to read book. You did not have to understand the ramifications of the stars to enjoy the book which was a mix of historical fiction, some romance, a few bad guys and a murder thrown into the mix. The cover was intriguing too. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Amazing Churches of the World by Michael Kerrigan

This book is not just for someone who is Christian. It is for anyone admiring architecture, beauty, the cleverness in construction and the skills and the eye that goes into making something not just a building but something of extra ordinary beauty. Images of over 150 churches, basilicas, chapels and cathedrals are not just beautiful on the outside but stunning on the inside as well. From huge structures, to very simple churches, this book encompasses it all. Beautiful images, overview and snippets of history. Sent by Amber Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Mortmain Hall (Rachel Savernake No. 2) by Martin Edwards

Rachel Savernake is an enigmatic woman. Born and raised on a remote island, her father a renowned but disliked Judge Rachel is unknown to many other than her domestic staff whom she considers her family. That alone was very different for aristocratic 1930 London. We have Leonora Dobell, a hidden past and a person who is intent on finding and exposing mistrials of justice. She has invited three persons and Rachel to her home for a weekend. All three are people who have escaped the gallows on technicalities or barely made it through and Rachel though circumspent is very interested what it will hold for her. On the sidelines there is a Fleet Street reporter who gets almost framed for murder, there are people from the past who do get murderered even though they are warned that they are in danger, and it ends with a string of murders itself. Overshadowing it all is something secret, something concerning security of the nation. Apart from the murders, and the gothic feel of the setting, the Yorkshire countryside is shown very descriptively. For outsiders this is a plus point. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

David and Samuel return every year to this village for a summer holiday courtesy of their parent's employer. They look forward to the relaxed fun they have and for two twelve year olds this was a good time. David had issues, severe abuse issues with his stepfather and Samuel had problems at times with his elder brother. In 1986 they met for the first time Julie, whom they befriended and who very quickly became one of their very close friends. Julie goes missing and so does Emilie another twelve year old and it marks the end of those carefree days. Fast forward thirty years and David and Samuel are still carrying a secret which is haunting them and getting heavier by the day. David is now a successful author and Samuel his publisher. When they both get a manuscript outlining what happened that fateful day, they do know a reckoning is coming. They have to learn now how to deal with it. The sender has sent three manuscripts out, and he wants an outcome. The story is tense and complicated with flashbacks. I liked how it went back and forth between the time lines (there were three here) but it did not distract or detract from the story. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Monday, July 12, 2021

Black & Blue (Lord and Lady Hetheridge No 4. By Emma Jameson

I like the old fashioned detection - I like the modern versions too but somehow when a Lord is the detective in question, and his assistant is his wife 30 odd years his junior whom he married after being a bachelor for ever so long, it does add a piquancy to the equation. Kate is a working woman, with a nephew and brother to look after and nurture. Her sister and mother now appear on the scene like avenging angels, out to look after their kin whom they have ignored upto now. The children themselves do not want to go with them as they see through them, but Kate and Hetheridge do know that legally they are on a very thin wicket. The third party in this is Paul Bihar of Indian descent who lives with his mother. His mother Sharadha is very much part of this story as it is her partner who is now the chief suspect in the murder of Gran Hardwick. Although both Kate and Wetheridge, Paul and his mother realise that Buck is not the murderer in this case, the circumstances and events are all against him and it is upto all of them to prove otherwise. Funny at times, and so realistic about families and how divided they can be the story apart from detection is one of relationships of many different kinds. Wetheridge getting to accept that he likes children, never having had any, enjoying his marriage despite bets to the contrary and Kate trying very hard to pursue her career knowing that it has been to the detriment of her husband. The setting and people in the story are very aptly described and added great interest to the read. This was a download from Amazon.

Friday, July 9, 2021

The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

Three women all facing a crisis in their lives - and set in an idyllic little town of Ballycove in Ireland. Elizabeth faces a financial crisis and personal disillusionment on the death of her husband Eric. He has racked up thousands in debit and she cannot find a way out of it. She is sad at the way her marriage turned out, a sham from beginning to end. Her friend Jo knows that something is wrong with her health, but does not know how serious it is and there is Lucy the young doctor who will be their guiding light and savior though she is unaware of it. Lucy herself in a dead end job with no satisfaction at the end of it, with a son Niall who is unsettled and trying to get to grips with life after a betrayal and a divorce. Three women completely different lives and the story of how they come together to support each other, find solace and move on from the blows they've received. I felt so good at the end of this read, a feeling that was necessary in the present climate. A story of companionship, of being supportive without being oppressive, and especially one of kindness. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

One Must Tell The Bees by J Lawrence Matthews

This was an extraordinary story, a hidden one. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated whilst at the theatre. The story goes behind the scenes how a chemist by the name of Holmes accompanied by a smart young boy called Abraham is called upon by Lincoln's advisor to go find the assassin and bring him back. Holmes has to pit his wits against the famous detective Alan Pinkerton as well as the wiley Boothe the assassin himself who has support in unexpected quarters. Traversing America ending where Boothe was holed up and where he died is part of the story. The other is the memoir that Watson receives, detailing Holmes own version of the Lincoln events and which culminate in Watson meeting up with Holmes to continue the story of what is actually happening now at the end of WWI. The two stories are distinct though the Lincoln one takes up most of the book. It was fascinating reading, detailed and descriptive of two extremely clever, innovative men who went far beyond the call of duty to do what had to be done at all times. This was a story that had to be read slowly to assimilate all that was going on. Sent by East Dean Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Dagger Dance by Elizabeth Bailey

1793 England. The Lady Fanshawe alias Tillie. On the way to solving another murder/s. Nothing I like more. Vintage mystery murder detection, add to that the English aristocracy yes to all that. Lady Fan has been unwittingly drawn into an investigation. A enslaved woman, beloved of Hemp (very close to Lady Fan) appeals to her as his love Doro has been detained in the murder of a rather unpleasant Lord. His wife, upto the date of his murder who detested him, wanted him out of the way, and was on the verge of leaving him for another younger man - now professes distraught at his death. She deliberately leaves Doro her slave to the fate of imprisonment and hanging and pretends that nothing has happened. It is upto Lady Fan along with her husband who ably supports her to find out the ramifications of why the man was killed, by whom and to get Doro out of the clutches of the law. Beautifully told, very descriptive of both life in London - the slums of London at the time seem horrible and unimaginable and how people survived there is totally unreal. It however gives one an idea of what people did to survive and survive they did. A side story in this which was interesting but only added a bit of variation was the story of orphan Pretty and the position in the Fanshawe household. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble

There seems to be a number of books coming in series in the mystery genre and they all are good. This one is Number three in a Pelican Harbour series. The setting of these small towns always piques my interest. We do not have the camaraderie and knowing it all that small towns have and this aspect intrigues me. A house fire, two deaths. The house owner had previously called in a threatening phone call just prior to her death and the fireman who died in the blaze was just carrying out his duty and sadly died. Further investigations point out to arson and a deliberate attempt to kill the fireman by pretending there was a pet inside the house. The fireman was an avid dog lover. Jane Hardy has these two deaths to investigate and a further case which is getting colder by the minute. When her 15 year old son is innocently drawn in as a murder suspect for the third murder and when it is so closely connected to Jane's partner and her son's father, it looks like as if the scene and things are being manipulated to seek revenge on Jane and her immediate family. The story is a bit complicated - there are cults, and long standing unforgotten family disputes all leading to the present case. I enjoyed the writing, the setting and the characters. I also understood the parents anxiety and what they felt was a miscarriage of justice and how often it does happen and what does one do in those circumstances. Sent by Thomas Nelson Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Last Tiara by M J Rose

Sophia's past was almost unknown to her daughter. Other than the fact that she escaped almost at the very end, arriving in New York and joining Aunt Lana her daughter Isobelle knows very little. When Sophia dies suddenly in a freak accident, Isobelle is left grappling with her absence. Turning to refurbishing the apartment she lives in, Isobelle discovers hidden niches containing clues to her mother's past. The story is told in two time lines - that of Sophia and her Russian past and the New York present and then her daughter Isobelle's present. Isobelle is at a cross roads professionally - being a female architect in 1948 New York was no easy task, especially dealing with a male chauvinist like her boss, who uses her one lapse as blackmail against her. Isobelle despairs of ever finding love and building a strong relationship and she also hankers to know more about her father. The subject of her father was a taboo subject and no amount of persuasion could get Sophia to talk on the subject. With the discovery of the frame of the tiara, Isobelle goes to the jeweller who handled the transaction and slowly layer upon layer is uncovered of her family's history - the so traumatic past and how her father was betrayed by his own. The world of famous jewellers is also part of this story - albeit small but intriguing. Several strands from the past - not just personal to Sophia but also history of the Tsars and the Revolution are woven together bringing it to present times very satisfactorily. Sent by Blue Box Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Mystery at the Church by Clare Chase (No 6)

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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham

Morane was passionately loved and in turn loved her grandmother Rozenn. She also loved the house in Cornwall, so she was stunned (as was the family) when the house was left to her sister Gwen. Morane cannot understand what her grandmother expected her to feel but at the same time she has an understanding that there is more to this inheritance that meets the eye. At a very rocky place in her personal life, Morane decides to be impetuous, put aside her failing business and pursue the few clues left behind to go to Brittany and there discovers such a hidden history of her grandparents, a history that not even their son, Morane's father knew about. Discovering an uncle, an aunt whom no one knew about, finding out details of her grandmother's work during the Nazi occupation of Brittany and the shameful secret that she hid till the very end, not disclosing it even at the end though a muttered word on her deathbed was only discovered in hindsight by Morane much later. The story of the Guillou family unravels slowly - how the war affected them all and how it changed the course of their own family history. The descriptiveness of the area of Brittany is wonderful, characterization is spot on - each one was very different to the other despite being one family and close knit at that. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

All That Lingers by Irene Wittig

Every other read I pick up seems to be of the WWII vintage. Each story is different though a common theme of anti Nazism seems to run through it all. No one likes being submissive to a foreign invader, and this is something that has happened through the centuries (still happening sadly). Emma is our chief character but the story of Sophie and Uncle Freidrich are paramount to the story too. Set in Vienna, the idyllic period of Austrian history was about to be demolished and in its place a more darker part of history began. It is also surprising that Austria did not acknowledge this dark period in its history till very much later. Emma is leading a very comfortable life, well established when her eyes are opened to an alternate life for those around her - the Jews and those who are not sympathetic to the Nazi cause. The story was unusual. It did not end in 1945 but it continued into the next generation. This was an unusual take on WWII and the rise of Nazism in Europe, and then the eventual downfall. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Reluctantly Home

Pip had never felt completely at home, at her home with her parents. They never quite understood her, her work or her education. After a tragic accident Pip is now back to recuperate after a breakdown of sorts. She has left behind her high powered job and her high powered boyfriend. Her life now is as different as it could be. She volunteers at a thrift shop and just manages to get through one day at a time. When a diary surfaces in a box of books, Pip is very intrigued by the contents as it seems to mark a particularly momentous year in the life of a Evelyn Mountcastle. Then her boyfriend Dominic breaks up with her and Pip buries herself in the life of one year of Evelyn. Tracking her down, befriending her and getting to know Evelyn marks a turning point in both Pips and Evelyn's life. Both are rejuvenated and are able to take an interest in life as it is now, as against what it was. A good story of how one can overcome personal tragedy, and though here both stories were bleak and very sad, the joining of two kindred spirits helped them both. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Farewell my herring by L C Tyler

Fell Hall is remote, no wifi connections, cut off from the outside world and ideal for a creative writing retreat. When just three of the participants turn up (two of them one day early), the others are the lecturers it is a mixed crowd and does not sit quite right. All are crime writers of different strengths and popularity and the convenor of them all seems very detached from it all. Running the event with an iron hand and according to rules with no deviation Wendy has done this before and hopes to conclude this one successfully. She did not envisage that those who came had all got complicated histories and that one of them was a blackmailer. When one body is discovered and when the whole Hall is cut off completely due to inclement weather it is upto Ethelred and Elsie to do the detective work themselves and try to find which of their small group is the murderer. It seems straightforward at first like all mystery murders but then they get side tracked by additional bits of information and events. Set over just a couple of days, the story goes back and forth dissecting each person present and the reasons they could or could not be the murderer. Why the victim was chosen is fairly straightforward and the end was not too complicated. A well told mystery. Sent by Allison & Busby for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway series No. 13)

Ruth Galloway a forensic archaelogist of repute does not like amateur detectives. Very little patience with them. She is however good at not showing exactly how she feels and when a body is discovered in a nearby trench, it is a Bronze Age one and right up her street. She did not think that it will lead to a murder and another body to be discovered and dealt with. She did not think very much of the Metal Detectorists who also haunted the sites hoping to discover buried treasure in large measure. She had her reservations about all of them. When the body count starts piling up, and when there are too many coincidences the mystery deepens. Added to the tension is the fact that DI Nelson is also the father of Ruth's daughter and there is so much unwritten past and present and future in their dealings. The fact that he is now married to someone else, with a very young baby son does not detract from the chemistry that exists between the two. Story No. 13 in the series, this is not getting stale or boring. Sent by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Ice Blue by Emma Jameson

A Baron of Wellegrave is not someone you will normally find as a Superintendent of Police. Quiet, unassuming, not married, no vices and very unruffled. Sixty years of age and with an excellent record of solving cases with such a quiet demeanour and very understated. Totally, totally attractive! Detective Sergeant Kate Wakefield half his age, impetuous, going hell for leather into situations with no thought for the consequences in a male hierarchy which is close knit and will not allow females in any form, also a colorful home background trying to cope with many responsibilities in her life. Two very contrasting characters but they do have to act together in this latest episode and how beautifully it is done. One balancing the other. One persons outspoken character so charmingly blending with the quiet good taste of the other. I almost forgot I was reading a detective story! the give and take of the two characters was so attractive and compelling. The actual story of the killing of a top financier brutally done to death, the emergence of an old flame, and the rather harsh upper class background of the victim and his family were just side lines!!! Loved the writing style and story. A free download from Amazon.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Skelton's Guide to Suitcase Murders by David Stafford

It seemed an open and shut case. A dismembered body found in a suitcase, traces of blood on a rug in the accused's house, the wife having an affair and above all in 1929 England the accused was a foreigner, so naturally he was the main suspect. The victim was an Englishwoman! Arthur Skelton was called in to defend the accused. Noted for his quiet and clever defences, Skelton realises very early on that Aziz is being framed by someone and the Police for convenience would prefer to convict the Egyptian than look for any other clues pointing to anyone else. Uncovering clues and a detection skill that is understated and to be admired Skelton puts together pieces of evidence, seemingly not important at all to defend Dr Aziz perfectly. It was my first foray into David Stafford's writings and I liked it very much. A quieter pace and a very laid back style of detection. Sent by Allison & Busby for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

An Artful Corpse by Helen A. Harrison

Benton is an accomplished artist but he is brash, rude and an unforgiving critic. To the point that it is not criticism but seems very personal. When his body is found murdered in a gruesome fashion in a famous Manhattan Art School, everyone wants to get to the bottom of it and set it to rest because both studients and teachers are jittery. Uncovering the why and how shows a trail of people who intensely disliked Benton, but whether it was enough for him to be murdered is left to be seen. Everyone who is suspect has an iron clad alibi and it is left to a young student who is trying to clear his friend's name to start a private investigation with a few leads that he has picked up. The 1960s are very well depicted here - from draft dodgers, to the music scene, to the beginning of people coming out openly, the mistrust that gays and lesbians had to face, the bigotry, all detailed very well and brings the 60s to life here. Plenty of characters in the story, sometimes one too many, but a good story. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Tuscan House by Angela Petch

Another spectacular read set during WWII and the occupation of Italy, the work of Mussolini and the Germans and how ordinary Italians did their bit in saving their country from the invaders and just survived. Fosca and her very young son landed in Corbello and seek refuge with Richard (who is escaping his life in England) as the only means of keeping safe. She just wants to keep her head down, find a way to protect her boy and live to keep him safe. She did not think she would get involved with the Resistance in Italy and work as a spy for their little group of saboteurs in Corbello. Working right under the eye of the Germans was tough, but Fosca pulled it off. When a body is discovered in the premises of the tobacco house where she lives, Fosca is convinced it is that of Simonetta who she feels was betrayed by someone within their community and she sets about finding out who and how this happened, knowing that she is putting herself in danger. The story may be just another one set in the emotional background of the War, but it is very descriptive of the natural beauty of this part of Italy. Part of a series but very good as a standalone. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Crawfords Series by Sophie Barnes

Three beautifully crafted stories from a bygone era, involving ladies and lords, dukes and duchesses, all the intricacies of the aristocracy. These were no ordinary men, not the stereo typed gentlemen we are used to seeing. These were gentlemen no doubt, but they were certainly different. The ladies were even more surprising - not run of the mill missish types, all from the aristocracy but all with a will of their own and acting in a manner which sets the aristocracy alight! These were fun stories to read, beautiful settings and very descriptive. It was ideal reading as a change from the WWII books I've got so drawn to recently. Very entertaining. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Song of the Nile by Hannah Fielding

Aida has returned to Luxor to her home, after eight years. The eight years spent as a surgical nurse has exposed her to the horrors of war and life. Now deciding to take up her inheritance after the sudden death of her father, a death brought about by a false claim of smuggling Aida does not find it that easy to fit into conservative Egypt unlike before. A marriage had been almost settled on her but she is not of the same opinion now and the story that starts from this tumultuous beginning shows what Aida has to face. A beautiful, rich young woman becomes the target of fortune hunters anywhere and Egypt is no exception. Her independence and impulsiveness can lead her to dangerous situations and orders given without explanations will not be followed. Her growing attraction to Phares whom she originally promised to is something that she cannot ignore, but at the same time Aida has doubts over his true intentions. Is it just an annexation of her vast properties to his own which are adjoining and can she forget that she always thought that it was he who had betrayed her father causing him to die. This story apart from being a love story and a rather torrid romance, was more beautifully a descriptive story of life in Cairo and Luxor in 1946. Especially amongst the aristocracy of Egypt. In detail the life, the surroundings,the archaelogical history of Egypt, the food which seemed glorious and even the souks and shopping areas in both cities detailed and descriptive add so much colour and lustre to the story. I enjoyed that part more than the romance anyway. Sent by London Wall Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Sign of Death by Callie Hutton

A vintage sleuthing mystery which is so descriptive of not just the mystery itself but adds so much detail in the setting, the lifestyle and the characters themselves. 1896 James Harding is found drowned and it is not an accident. First thought by the Police that he had been drunk, Lord Wethington realises that something is seriously amiss because Harding who was his business manager was a teetotaller. On the other hand Harding has been cheating Lord Wethington and when the enquiry gets going, it seems he has been cheating or blackmailing so many people that the list of suspects keeps getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately the Police in charge of the case are fixated on Lord Wethington as a chief suspect in the murder/s and do not seem to be following any other clues. Lord Wethington along with Lady Amy Lovell, who is a friend and member of the Mystery Book Club are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and also find out who is trying to frame Lord Wethington. The romance which lingers between them is also on the bubble as it were, sponsored by everyone around them but ignored by the two protagonists themselves! Descriptive of both the times and lifestyle, this was a super vintage sleuthing mystery story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Churchill's Secret Messenger by Alan Hlad

I seem to be on a WWII reading binge and enjoying every one of them. All of them set in different scenarios, looking at different aspects of life and mainly how civilians under the very nose of their enemies carried out a life which was known only to them. Rose met up with Churchill on a chance encounter in his typing pool. The great man obviously was someone who remembered details and when someone was needed who was loyal, tenacious, spoke French like a native it was an obvious choice that Rose fit the bill. Her arrival in France and her work behind enemy lines taking messages to and fro where her "ordinaryness" as a pretty French young woman did not go questioned very much, Rose was a very successful agent. Willing to go the extra mile, cycling two miles to find and deliver a message and then to escape was a huge feat. Having lost her entire family to both the War and raids on London, Rose was numb to personal loss until she met Lazare a fellow freedom fighter and one whom she fell in love with. Incarceration at a Nazi camp for both of them meant that it looked like the end of the road but fate meant it otherwise. Another epic story of history written by civilians and one we should never forget. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton

The opening chapter of this story was so surprising that I knew the story that followed had to be unusual. April Bennett was not good maternal material. She seemed capricious and self centred and was able to manipulate both her young daughters into believing whatever she said. When she died, and within a very very short period her elder daughter May passed away in an accident, June the 40year old youngest was left to piece the puzzle of whatever was left behind. Told by June throughout, with the spirit of May always hovering over her protective and trying to direct her in whatever way was the best told a story of murder, mayhem, break up of families, cover up and now at last the final denouncement of all the lies that went before. Set in a what should have been an idyllic island, it was at turns peaceful and overwhelming. Excellent reading Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Set in two time lines a few decades apart the story of Juliet and now her grand niece Caroline is a beautiful one. Caroline is just discovering that her marriage has fallen apart, and above all her husband in New York has no intentions it seems of sending her son back to her. On top of it all, her grand aunt Juliet dies, and on her deathbed mutters a most cryptic message for her. Knowing that she has to follow up on this beloved Aunt's instructions, Caroline sets off on a mission to throw her Aunt's ashes in the canals of Venice and armed with three keys and no idea at all to what they belong. The story set in 1938 Venice, just before the Nazi invasion of Europe shows the prim and proper Julet that Caroline knew to be someone else totally. Unravelling a story of passion, a child born out of wedlock, work for the British Resistance and incarceration in a Nazi camp reveal a part of Juliet that no one knew or could ever imagine. An intensely private person in England no one could ever imagine such a varied and interesting life had been spent in Europe as a young woman. Caroline is left to follow very vague clues and this she does and finds peace for herself as well. WWII background once again, stunning characterization, descriptive of Venice (you want to go there asap) and a lot of history very well told. A winner all around. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The House of Hidden Secrets by C E Rose

Serena is trying to escape an abusive, manipulative relationship. Scarred by a deliberate act she and her daughter Lana have arrived at Ramsay Hall to turn a new leaf in their lives, get a respite from the previous abuse and then decide what to do. Serena did not envisage meeting up Hayden who seemed a harmless man incapacitated by a fall along with his two grown up sons, Hugh and Jack. Serena fits in well with the household quickly with Hayden and Hugh but cant understand Jack's antipathy and coldness towards her and especially towards Lana. The story as a psychological thriller proceeds on several fronts. Apart from Serena's own story, Hugh has hiw own twisted background to deal with including a homosexual incident of his past blown out of all proportion and which has now scarred him, Jack dealing with the trauma of his ex wife and Hayden hiding secrets from his children, but known to many others. There were surprising twists till the end, the very end which added interest to the story. Sent by Hera Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Moonlit Murders (Fen Churche mystery No. 3) Fliss Chester

The war is over and it is 1945. There is a lot of jubilation to be returning home from France for Fen Churche. She hasn't seen family and friends for years and is looking forward to going home. An overnight journey to Southampton turns into a longer journey to New York on the invitation of Eloise and her snooty aunt Mrs. Archer to join them and act as companion to Eloise. On the outward journey when Mrs. Archer's jewels of which she is inordinately proud, are lost and when a body is discovered in a lifeboat by Fen and Eloise all hell breaks loose on the ship. The Captain wants to keep the matter as closed as possible, as this kind of publicity can lead to uneasiness amongst all his passengers. At least till they reach New York and can hand it over to the Police there. Sleuthing on behalf of Mrs Archer (reluctantly on her part) Fen and James (her friend from stories past) try to solve the mystery of the dead German and then find the missing jewels, all on the few days they have left to them, before they dock at New York. A lot of history interspersed with detection was well told. Descriptive too. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Witch Hunt in Whitby by Helen Cox

Hints of the occult and the paranormal in this story with three murders in three different locations all within Yorkshire. The victims are first warned with a V painted on their front door, and eleven days later they are murdered. When the V is painted on Ruby's door a ninety year old harmless Tarot reader, private Investigators Kitt and Grace spring into action to protect Ruby and get to the bottom of this mystery which has baffled the police. The local constabulory does not like private investigators getting involved in their investigations but because of Kitt's relationship with Mal a local Detective, they both keep each other in the loop with whatever each has turned up hoping to find who is responsible for the three deaths so far. The story moves on far beyond the surface and now goes back decades to uncover a history of hidden resentments, and revenge being sought for damages and humiliation suffered so many years ago. The link between the three murders first thought to be only the occult now shows up further links to the women killed. Being Whitby there is a lot of goth action, vampire cults and references to Dracula. It was not easy to work out who the killer was because there were so many suspects who were very plausible for playing the role of murderer. I did not get it myself till the end. Nice setting of Whitby and Yorkshire in general, good characterizations and very detailed detection. Sent by Quercus Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.