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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.