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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.