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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.