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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