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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd

1837 and English society was very hard in their judgements. The penniless daughter of an Earl should have had some standing but with a series of bad debts and a suicide both daughters are ostracized by society which befriended them earlier, and Miss Morton's friends now give her the cut direct and talk behind her back. To add to the disgrace, rather than be under the protection of her Aunt Caroline has sought employment with the amiable and kind Mrs. Frogton whose origins in trade add to Caroline's disgrace. Now invited for Mabel's birthday party (Caroline's young cousin) the invitation is extended to Mrs Frogton and her daughter Dot as well. Caroline knows that the path to the party is not going to be smooth but she did not envisage murder being part of the events leading upto the birthday. With her aunt and uncle both ignoring the fact that their long standing butler and their elderly Aunt have been murdered, not wanting to bring the police into the investigation and ignoring the Doctor who keeps saying that both were murdered the event of the birthday continues regardless with a callous regard for both employee and relation. Unraveling a story that has to be kept hidden at any cost - involving white slave trade, abducted children being sent to homes the whole family seems to be holding on to secrets that they do not want told. So many strands of the story had to be woven into the whole, it got a bit distracting towards the end but it was a good indication of society at the time and how aristocracy closed ranks and everything sordid was hidden. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

No More Lies by Kerry Lonsdale

On the surface Jenna seems to have it all. A lovely son, a very good career and her own house. She has even found love again with a very nice man and a marriage is on the cards. No one knows other than Josh, who has an inkling, that Jenna has secrets. Secrets that have made her run change residences several times. The reason - she has killed a young man and someone out there has her secret on a video tape. Now he has found her again and the threats are not just money - there is someone out there who also wants to harm her son and the two are not by one and the same person. Jenna is not someone who has told her secrets to anyone so it becomes harder and harder to conceal them from her only good friend and from her fiancee who is hurt and puzzled by her inability to trust him. The story goes on from there and is quite tense and very emotional as well when Josh goes missing. The book is part two of a trilogy but it was very good as a stand alone. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk- Berger

A collection of short stories from before, during and after WWII - the position and life of ordinary Ukrainians in their struggle against Russian imperialism. A map, a glossary and the historical background leading to the present conflict help anyone who is not very familiar with this country's complicated history. The stories are as expected of endurance, survival, family ties and it is somewhat sad that we are still being greedy to acquire and overlord someone else without being happy with what we have. An absolutely necessary read for present times. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, May 20, 2022

An English Garden Murder (Julia Bird Mystery No. 1) by Katie Gayle

Julia Bird chose this quiet Cotswald village for its rustic charm, the quiet, the feeling that it would be ideal for her unplanned retirement. She did not think she would find a dead body on the first day that she moved into the cottage. The body discovered buried in her garden shed for over twenty years is now a crime scene. She cannot get on with her plans for having chickens and a chicken coop till this mystery is solved. Trying to solve this in a village where secrets can remain hidden forever and where the residents can clam up against "outsiders" is legendary. This is very much so as getting information out of the villagers is near impossible. People "know" stories and hints abound but getting them connected is the issue. A typical cosy, this was very pleasant reading. Descriptive of the area and its inhabitants. The shops, the library and the villagers all made up for a very nice read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Memory of Her by Bianca M. Schwarz (Gentleman Spy Series)

The third in a series but does good as a stand alone. The scene is set in 1823 England but the story goes back in part to the Crimea where Allen has been a prisoner and severely tortured by a Russian general. Now spirited away to England, he is back in his home to recuperate and recover from the physical and mental torture he has undergone. Whether he will or not depends on the care and attention that he receives from not just his loyal servants but from Eliza's sharp intelligence as a spy to make sure that Allen is safe, not been followed or in any danger of being abducted again. When foreigners are discovered in the village Eliza knows that the whereabouts have been discovered and that an attack on Allen is only a matter of time. How to circumvent this, protect him, find out who the abductors are and more importantly who sent them is a matter of urgency. The story follows in a meticulous fashion how and when things happen and how they successfully beat back the attackers. This was a nice bit of recounting going back to the Crimea and then back to peacetime England. Sent by Central Avenue Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. P S I have been late with reviews (once again). I went on a four day trip to Orissa, Eastern India. It was a break I had been wanting for sometime, and there never seemed to be a good moment. We are in turmoil as a country politically and economically. If I waited any longer it would never have got done. I am just glad I was able to visit.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Search by Michelle Huneven

This book was riveting. I could not put it down and was annoyed when I had to put it aside to attend to household chores! The story of a congregation looking for a minister to succeed the one who is retiring is told in the form of a committee and its hearings (and there are wonderful recipes and food to gloat over) whilst we go through with all the meetings that follow. The congregational search is in itself divided. There seems to be fairly well established rules for the entire process but very early on the group seems to be divided by young and old, conservative views and definitely more radical ones. My knowledge of church leaders if very narrow so it was an eye opener for me. Ministers using every trick in the book to keep a congregation happy. Theatrics, yoga, comparative religions, plenty of music of every kind, a few under hand tricks as well to get a Ministership (?) if thats what its called with a negotiation which would do a corporate proud to get the best deal. The book meandered chapter by chapter but it did not hide the passion of the church members to do what they feel is best for their church. Unfortunately many of the feelings clashed and most were intractable. Those who gave in gracefully "for the common good" felt cheated at the end that the result was not worth the sacrifice of principles and ethics. The story is an unusual one, and is a page turner. Sent by Penguin Group The Penguin Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, May 13, 2022

All The Lights above us by M B Henry

This was quite an arresting read. Five women across Europe all very different in age and occupation enact a very important day not just in their lives but in the world. The repercussions of this day echo in their own little world but also very much in the country in which the stories were set. June 6th 1944 was D Day not just for the Allied Forces. It was a disastrous day for Nazi Germany occupied France. The Nazis were determined to hold out and murder as many as they could before they gave up to the Allies and these five stories told in alternating chapters effectively describe what took place on both sides of the divide. From the Resistance worker Flora to Adelaide who just kept her head down, boarded young German men and who could be viewed as a collaborator but who wasnt, she was just a survivor. Then we have Midge the young American who bound herself with Nazi Max and would always be thought of as a traitor, Theda the young English nurse trainee whose sights unlike those of her colleagues was set on a career and not just enticing a young man into marriage and Emilia the young German woman who is seeking to escape one German prison of Lebensborn for a career with a Nazi high up, hoping one day she can escape it all. The book covers not just the work and lives of five very different women, but the effort of meticulous planning and implementation for the success of 6th June. The carnage, the destruction that preceeded it and that which followed it was brutal but matter of fact. As usual a WWII book from so many different perspectives, and a very good account of history. Sent by Alcove Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

And By Fire by Evie Hawtrey

I got a mini history lesson reading this book. London is divided into two - the Metropolitan London and then the old City of London established by the Romans (?) and governed by the London Police Force. Nigella Parker is the Detective on the scene when a charred body is found beside one of the famed Wren monuments. Closer inspection reveals that it is a sculpture made of wood and Nigella realises that they are dealing with a person who will increase the tension of the case becoming more and more daring till he actually starts burning bodies. She is not far wrong and the cases escalate. No clues left behind other than the fact that the person is an artist of high skills and little by little it points out that he has a hatred of anything that Wren built. Detectives have to go back in history to the 17th century - to the Great Fire of London and its widespread destruction with the huge loss of life and then to the rebuilding of it under the supervision of Wren and this is where the first clues emerge. Spanning the centuries, the story is similar and parallels are drawn. The present day murders however have to be solved as quickly as possible since the escalation begins at a rapid pace. Very unusual story in a beautiful backdrop. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The French House by Jacquie Bloese

Set in the island of Guernsey the story of two people whose lives were entwined innocently enough, who got separated due to the war and parental pressure and then who lived miserable lives during the course of the war under untold hardship. Nazi occupied Guernsey was no fun. Emile returned from the war stone deaf - his hearing impaired by an accident. Isabelle is now the housekeeper of The French House and married to a bully who watches her every move, with the intention of hurting her either mentally or physically. Emile is married to Letty who is bitter and angry because she knows her husband has never loved her and despite him taking over and being a father to another man's daughter - she is not charitable enough to overlook that for his other failing of not caring for her. Loyalties are tested, old enmities surface and lives are at risk with the all seeing Nazi always trying to find a spy in their midst. The story was intense, plenty of very good history in the story and very vivid descriptions. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Thursday, May 5, 2022

A Plot Most Perilous (A Cassie Gwyne Mystery No. 2) by Genevieve Essig

America 1883 and Cassie feels that she is finally home with her Aunt and beloved cat. A travelling theater comes into town and Cassie takes on a role there as well. She loves the theater life and is in her element but then death strikes a blow. Lots of clues, accidents that just happen and Cassie is all out to solve the mystery as she feels the police are not really doing very much. Whether she will be able to solve it all before the show goes on the boards is the question. And will someone try to prevent her from doing so. The confusion comes in the form of too many characters to follow so that one can get a mixed up. The cozy part of the mystery is fine though. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Hidden Gem. The Secret of St. Augustine by M S Spencer

A 100 year old treasure and treasure hunts have been going on for the last few decades trying to uncover the riddle. Barnaby meets Philo - two more unlikely opposites but there is a spark of attraction and the focus is on solving this puzzle. There is a whole host of characters and several strands from romance to mystery, to cross confusing directions and lots besides. It got a bit difficult to follow the several strands though it did come together in the end. A good mystery. Sent by The Wild Rose Press Inc for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. Reading fallen far behind, reviews dropping back as well. Hoping to get four reviews done in one go today so at least I am upto date. The country situation is still very dicey. We hear of huge large scale corruption - the magnitude of which is so big it is unimaginable that just a single family could swindle so much. I only hope we could get a percentage of it back. Doubtful but I hope so.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Allegiance to Alsace by Marta Anne Tice

1804 in the backdrop of Napoleon's victories over all countries he roars through we have Anna Liese daughter of a wine maker. She is horrified at the progress of Napoleon and the damage he is causing throughout Europe but she knows that dissention carries a heavy price as well. Discovering that her father is actually a spy and working against Napoleon strengthens her resolve to do whatever she could in the smallest way possible to stop the tide but her mother and Uncle are very much pro Napoleon and are only interested in bettering themselves in whatever way possible. When romance also happens in Anna Liese life she is very confused because Hans her lately found love is very much in Napoleon's army and very much following his principles. It is only much later that she comes to know that he is secretly woring with her father as well. The story of romance on Anna Liese's part, her elopement with Hans ending with his death, her imprisonment as a suspected spy and her later rescue and marriage set against the war waged by Napoleon also in the background of a working winery added so many strands of interest to the story. The history part of the story was also detailed and interesting especially when added to the wine industry and the workings of a winery at the time. Sent by BQB Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson

Helen is a newly appointed almoner. She is so looking forward to her job but knows that there are many obstacles. She herself comes from a working class background and knows that females working in jobs like this is not something quite acceptable from people amongst her peers. She also knows that those are the very people she has to work with. Thrown out of her home by her mother who thinks this will be the ultimate challenge to get her to change her ways, Helen lucks out when she and her husband Sandy are offered a beautiful home to live in whilst doing her job. She has never lived in such a "posh" house and is determined to make a go of the job, so as not to lose this home as well. Finding a dead body in the shed at the end of the property on the first day she moved in was not the beginning she envisaged and discovering that it is her mentor's daughter (or so she thought as the resemblance was uncanny) was also strange and too much of a coincidence. It set off an enquiry on Helen's part because she felt that there was a conspiracy on the part of everyone around her including her boss to cover up the tracks of who this woman is, and to just assign her to a list of Jane Doe's and forget about it. The story apart from the murders, is very descriptive in the lives of Edinburgh citizens of the 1940s. The class divide so very strong, that that in itself seems to be a story of its own. Good reading. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden

Edie Brown returns to the small town in Vermont to help out her uncle at his request. Her mother has been sent to prison for art forgery and Edie knows that though her mother was set up, she willingly did the deed. Their reputation of the business is on the edge and business is bad. A business that had been flourishing and with an excellent reputation. Edie seeks to find a way to set the business back on its feet and return to her own life in the city. It was not to be. Immediatley drawn into a massive find which could make both Edie and the shop's reputation for ever, she is again like her mother drawnn into a well thought of web of intrigue, fraud and finally murder till she, her uncle Tuck and Kala who is an assistant try to make sense of the whys and hows of the fraud. Dealing with plover decoys (totally unknown to me) made for interesting reading and the business of this was an education in itself. Well spun and well told this was a good one. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Her Last Holiday by C L Taylor

I read this a while ago and had to refresh my mind as to the story. Fran's sister Jenna disappears on what was going to be an idyllic retreat and was never heard or seen again. Now the man who owns and ran the retreat is out of prison but will not disclose what happened to the third victim at the retreat - Fran's sister. Fran wants to discover what happened to Jenna, and books herself for the retreat coming face to face with whom she considers her sister's murderer. Is Fran putting herself into too much danger because there are secrets that people would like to stay buried with Jenna. Told in two separate time lines - when Jenna was alive and the present the suspense is quite electric. A well written thriller. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Sri Lanka - an episode of gigantic proportions

This is a post just to explain the lack of posts. Sri Lanka is having a turbulent time and its not due to Covid. We are in the midst of political upheaval and right now we have hundreds of thousands of people - young and old, middle class and poorer sections of the people in a peaceful protest series right across the country The main objection is of course the present government, which due to mismanagement of resources and blatant corruption has managed to bring the country to bankruptcy. We have severe shortages of diesel and petrol and long, long queues for both. Fisticufss galore, high tension at all these petrol stations right across the country. People staying for twelve hours in a queue does not create an ambience of patience. We have a severe shortage of cooking gas. One has to register with an agent, get on a waiting list and wait. For those who live in houses - they have resorted to reverting to cooking on wood fires. For those of us like me, who live in apartments this is a no no. It was a nailbiting time for me last week when we finished one gas cylinder and could not get a replacement. On the foodstuffs line, apart from shortages of milk (and butter which is anyway not a necessity) prices have doubled and tripled due to the lack of transportation amongst other reasons. A severe scarcity of foreign exchange means imports are very restricted and since we import almost everything from sugar to flour to medicines, I need not explain! Insulin which I need for my husband is in short supply and my job is trying to find a vial here and a vial there. There is a severe scarcity of medical supplies in hospitals but the government denies this! anything to keep a good face on things rather than appealing to the Sri Lankan diaspora scattered across the world who will step in and help. With power cuts running upto eight hours a day (went up to 10) then came down and now just 4.5 hours per day computer time is also restricted. I will be back with my usual reviews asap.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Murder at Primrose Cottage (Flora Steele mystery) Merryn Allingham

It was the bookshop owner bit that drew me in first time around and this is my second read of the series. The books are fine as a stand alone, always a good thing. Flora is accompanying Jake on his writing expedition. He has to write a book (he has promised his publisher) and Flora is there to make sure that research and helping him out to achieve this. She did not expect in rural Cornwall in a most picturesque setting to find a body. The body of the owner of the cottage brutally murdered just a few hours after they met. Local detectives seem to be taking their own sweet time in linking the dots, finding suspects so Flora decides to pursue her own investigation into the case. Both Flora and Jake did not imagine it would take them to the post WWII years and a secret that had to be hidden at any cost - both of them were totally oblivious of what was happening but when a series of accidents could not be written off as mere coincidence they do realise it is imperative to find out who is behind the whole dangerous game. This was a beautiful setting, very descriptive and though Flora and Jake are sometimes quite quirky it all dovetails very neatly into a very readable story. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks by Julie Valerie

A young woman trying to hold it all together. The description is that of a contemporary novel and this is a light hearted read of a woman hoping to achieve all what she wants to do, over extending herself and in the process creates this story which is very easy to read. Holly is a young mother, part of a community and a wife plus a budding film maker. She wants to establish herself very much as part of the this small community and not just be an isolated person. To this end she tries to adapt to changing circumstances, changing people and still keep true to her dreams. The book was sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. On another note our country is going through such turmoil and trouble that it influences your every waking moment. We have power outages of upto ten hours, queues for petrol and diesel and cooking gas. The loss in employment will come soon enough - we have thousands of daily paid workers who are on the front line of losing their jobs. Everything is in shambles and we are going to accept that it is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Shadow in the Glass by M E Hilliard

Greer is there to celebrate her friend's wedding and to help out in the elaborate arrangements made at the various events. It is a posh, upscale wedding, no expenses spared and a murder is not what you would expect. It casts a pall on the post celebration because we have detectives all over the place and Greer herself feels that there is more to it than meets the eye, because the entire Whittaker family seems to have secrets which they have successfully hidden for decades. Whether the wedding was the catalyst for it to all come breaking down is left to be seen. This is more or less an amateur detective trying to link clues together with no help from others because the family themselves want history kept as history. It begins to unravel slowly but this was a slow detective read not a page turner. The police do not seem to be doing anything at all, and whether it is the influence of the family or sheer ineptitude I never could find out. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Ocean State by Stewart O"Nan

This was another story where the whole explanation of who did what came from the first page. We worked backwards after that. The story of how complicated life can be between a single family of mother and two daughters. The relationships are difficult. All three are very different personalities and each one is trying to have a "proper" life in the way they want to. The mother is a never ending stream of relationships, hoping that the next will be the one. The elder daughter wanting something more from life other than this small town and the youngest just wanting to be loved and to survive in the bullying, competitive world they live in. There are on the sidelines the boys which form part of the teenage triangles. They are not worth fighting over and losing your entire life over but that is teenage angst and that is what happens. The characters are mostly not likable and at one point I almost gave up on the story. The 13 year old Marie is the one you empathize with but she is fighting a losing battle with no one seeing the frightened child she actually is. Its a compelling story well told. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Mystery of the Hawke Sapphires (Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones Book No. 7)

I'm hoping that the series does not end because I am enjoying these books so very much. Its not just the story complicated and devious as it is, but it is the setting of London I like, the juxtaposition of rich and absolute poor together and how they seem to co-exist seamlessly the rich either unaware of their neighbours and the poor just accepting their fate. How come a rebellion never happened? To get to our story, we have a horrible man Sir Gerald Hawke on his deathbed ordering Meredith Chase a mild man if ever there was one to find Sapphire Hawke his ward, who has disappeared into thin air not heard of for decades. The search starts from the convent where she was sent in Belgium, moves back to the village to which she came back to where no one has seen or heard of her and then disappears into thin air. Presumed dead, Meredith Chase appeals to Dickens who somehow gets embroiled in the case in the midst of a pawnbroker, a murder and more devious dealings - they set to find the missing girl. The solving of the mystery and the murders is part of the novel but finding why Sapphire Hawke disappeared and was found again is hinted at the very opening and you do know that the beginning and end are linked. A different way of writing a story certainly. This was a free download from Amazon. Unfortunately I am not allowed to permit publication of my reviews on Amazon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Front Page Murder by Joyce St. Anthony

A small town in America during the second world war and Irene has taken over from her father who now works as a war correspondent. Her appointment does not go down well with many, who still feel that this taking over of men's jobs is a temporary feature and one which will have to be handed back to the men when they return Her own mother refuses to acknowledge her daughter's contribution as editor of the local paper and painstakingly likes to indicate that what Irene is doing is not quite right. When one of her correspondents (not the most popular bloke in the office) is found dead in his apartment, and when the local head of police is calling it an accident when everything points to it being very suspicious, Irene starts on her own to investigate the so called accident and stumbles upon several clues which point in just the direction of upto now undiscovered spies in the local company providing employment to many and supplying the American war effort. When Jews are targetted and the Police are still uninvolved, Irene steps up her detection to get to the bottom of it. The characters were just right from Irene who was steady and Peggy who supported her throughout, to the mother as well as the other unsavory characters as well. It is the first of a series and should do well in a series. Sent by Crooked Lane books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander

Louise and her father were a closely knit unit. After the devastating loss of her mother, Louise has now found her niche in the literary world of editing and is on the cusp of her dream job. When a long lost uncle calls up to inform her of the death of her grandmother, who has in her will left "something" for her Emily does not think the something is as huge as an impeccable Victorian mansion along with a literary inheritance which is slightly different from the norm. Louise has contradictory feelings for her inheritance especially since her father is totally opposed to her staying on in Cascata and wants her to just leave. She feels a tie to the house and to the literary side left to her and this is what keeps her rooted there. For Louise, there are many unanswered questions and the family in Cascata feel that it is not their place to enlighten her as to what went wrong. She has to somehow discover it for herself and in the process then take a decision as to her future. The mix of reality and surreal is a strange mix, something I am not very fond of in reading but it was very appropriate to this particular story. The descriptiveness of the area, the house itself which sounded so beautiful added to the story itself. And the ending tied it all together! Sent by Sweet Lemon Press LLC for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

An Escape to Remember by T A Williams

Louise thought her relationship with Tom was stable and that it could lead to a commitment after being together for five years. She did not expect to walk into the house and find him in bed with another. The offer of going to Italy to supervise and upgrade a neglected property seemed the ideal out for her which she gladly took. The story evolves from Louise going to Italy and finding the property challenging and interesting with a nice mix of characters in the hotel and the inscrutable Professor Vito with an ex boyfriend Paolo also thrown into the mix. More than Louise's budding romance, I found the setting and background very enjoyable and the work involved in getting a neglected property to par fascinating reading. The addition of all the food of Turin included in the story was mouth watering as well. Altogether a very pleasant read. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. On a non book note, we are still in the midst of mile long queues for petrol, diesel, kerosene oil for cooking and now gas for cooking as well. This has given me a headache because the gas shortage has brought it very close to home. We live in a flat so it is out of the question to have a firewood cook out which is what many people are setting out in their homes. It is a worrying thought.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg

Barbe Nicole was a young girl in the 1800s living in the Champagne area of France. Her mother was intent on her making a brilliant marriage but Barbe's sights were elsewhere with the boy whom she had grown up with her whole life. It was a turbulent time in France - Napoleon and all the new laws coming into effect and one had to be very careful whom one spoke to, associated with as a careless word in the wrong ears meant that all you've built up could be reduced to nothing. Barbe was unusual in one sense. She had inherited her grandmother's infamous nose and could smell anything from not just substances but from people and events. It was both a blessing and a curse. Barbe sadly becomes a young widow and despite the traditions of the time, takes on the vineyard with the idea of producing the best Champagne she could. She is supported by a group of like minded women in the same circumstances as her and with huge odds against her she pushes herself and her vineyard to do better and better. The wars which Napoleon entered into should have destroyed the luxury market, but strangely the demand for high quality champagne was still there and this is what she hedged her bets on. This was an interesting read, once again highlighting women's position in society which was generally not working well for the women. It worked very well for the men though. This was one women who turned tradition on its head, and worked for the betterment of her own life. It was a hard existence but it worked for her. I was rooting for Barbe throughout the story. A good bit of history in the form of Napoleon and his wars are part of the story as well. Sent by Lion Heart Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

One for Sorrow by Helen Fields

Apart from personal issues, my country like a lot of other places has many issues. We are in the middle of an electricity crisis with upto seven and a half hours power being cut off and now on top of that we have no cooking gas. There is a scarcity of petrol and diesel and today prices of both have been upped. There is also a severe shortage of milk powder but that affects households who have children mainly. It is a very depressing period to be in Sri Lanka. The bright thing that happened to me personally is that my Australian visa came through after two years (due to closure because of covid) and for that I am grateful. When I can, I shall visit children and grand children. This story was a wonderfully twisted one. I could not imagine for ages that there was a corkscrew effect in who the perpetrator of the crime was. We are led by the nose as it were in one direction which is obvious as the young man was cocky, a psychopath and one with no regard for women at all. It was the end which was the denunciation and then like a domino effect the whole story was open to one's understanding. Brilliant writing. Very unconnected victims, but in the course of those victims dying they also took with them many others from the medical, the police and the emergency services. The total death toll was frightening and one that Edinburgh had not seen before. It was also a crime scene which the detectives had not dealt with before. Masterful story telling. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Letter from Briarton Park by Sarah E Ladd

Cassandra Hale lived a very orderly, quiet life. With very little knowledge of her parentage, she at times felt the need to know more but it was not be. A deathbed confession by the woman she looked upto as the closest mother figure she had known indicated a world far outside the limitations of the genteel school Cassandra was brought up in and where she worked. A letter dated two years previous calling her to Briarton Park by a Mr. Clark was one of the surprises. Now homeless and jobless Cassandra looks to Briarton Park as a means of finding something about her parents. Her presence in this small village does not go unacknowledged. The vicar and his housekeeper befriend her firstly, and then the new owner of Briarton Park employs her as a governess for his two small daughters. There is antagonism all around - mainly from the step brother whom she expected much of because he does not want to part with any bit of his inheritance and what has been willed to Cassandra is substantial. With the murder of Mr. Clark's lawyer, Cassandra knows she has to be wary whom to trust and whom she can call a friend. The gentle story set in Regency times though a romance as well, also indicate the travails faced by gentlewomen of the time who were restricted by strict codes of conduct and who were beholden to the men in their circles for any kind of independence. A very pleasant story. Sent by Thomas Nelson Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, March 7, 2022

A Royal Murder A Lady Eleanor Swift Book No. 9 by Verity Bright

Lady Eleanor is no ordinary detective. She along with her team at home ably headed by her butler Clifford and with the support of Chief Detective Seldon are able to solve any crime. When a minor Royal is found murdered at the Regatta in broad view of hundreds of people, both Eleanor and Hugh realize that it is an insider job. However from the beginning the Royal Police headed by the insufferable Sir Percival is intent on side lining Seldon and very "reluctantly" drags in Lady Eleanor to conduct a discreet investigaiton into five suspects he thinks are probable murderers. Investigations continue with Seldon silently supporting Lady Eleanor and it is only at the end, that she realises that she has been given a few red herrings and lead on a wild goose chase by the erstwhile Sir Percival for his own personal ends. It had a very surprising twist in the tale which is always there in the series and together with Clifford the domestic troupe, the fabulous food and Gladstone all make up for fantastic light reading. Never disappoints. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Bad Terms by Alex Walters

Skeletons very seldom stay buried. At sometime they get unearthed by accident invariably. In this small village when during a routine building excavation a skeleton is unearthed and DNA indicates that it is a school girl who went missing decades ago, the search starts for not just the murderer but the facts of the case and for the people who were integral to the investigation at the time. Not easy considering that neighbours, even the parents of the girl have moved away and have to be tracked down. At the same time an accident at an elite school in the vicinity also becomes suspicious on further investigation and the Detectives on the case are being pushed to solve the present case rather than the older one. There are big names involved and finally one name comes up in both cases. Added to this is that there is always a reference to Detective Annie's mother who was herself a Chief Detective on the Force. Annie knows her mother's dealings were not always straight and she is worried what the investigations are going to throw up. This was a bit complicated to unravel. The stories were different and you needed to be on the ball to follow it. It was nevertheless an interesting detective story. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Drowned Village by Norma Curtis

Told in two timelines sixty five years apart Al and Elin have a lot of catching up to do. Al is in America returning to Wales to put ghosts to rest and Elin unaware of Al's return is in for a surprise. Years ago Elin gave up on love of a lifetime with Al to save her village from being submerged under a dam. She thought (wrongly) that staying back cultivating a friendship with Rob the engineer in charge, wouldbe enough to persuade him to choose another village for submerging rather than hers. Her parents livelihood would be safe. She thought wrong and then discovered Al gone for good, and distraught at her non arrival marrying the woman he knew for longest. Returning back to Wales, Al was looking also for Abraham Lincoln's Welsh roots and to give his mother her place in history. Amidst looking for Elin and to get the real story from her. The bunkhouse where Al was staying along with the pub knew Elin's story but they hid it as they did not come out well in the telling. Al had to discover it for himself. Secrets that were finally spoken of, plenty of broken hearts and lives that could have been lived differently. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham

Two timelines - always delightful. One in wartorn France and a mysterious woman called Laurence and then a book discovered in an attic amongst her father's possessions where Jeanne discovers she is the owner of a closed and abandoned book shop in a small village in France. The story takes on from this pivotal point and gives explanations as to why Jeanne never had a connection with her mother, and the sadness she feels that her father could not have told her this story before he passed away. Jeanne decides to go back to France and discover the hidden story behind the notebook. She discovers a story of courageousness and resistance, of a strong, supportive mother who decided to give up on her infant daughter to save her life though she herself would die. This is based on a true story and shows the indomitable spirit to overcome obstacles however hard and difficult they may be. For Jeanne to find a community who knew her story, knew about her existence as an infant and who warmly welcomed her back as their own was very heartfelt. As usual WW both I and II have given us innumerable good stories. Add this to the lot. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Death in Disguise by Emma Davies

I am reading more and more cozies recently. I am slightly disappointed however, that even amateur detectives who though amateur do have a basic understanding of detecting seem to go headlong into places and events where a bit more careful planning should precede. Francesca, our main character in this story is one of them. It leads me to have doubts on the story though this story was interesting enough. Francesca caters very successfully for various events. When she accidentally eavesdrops on a conversation during a lunch between two ladies (and she cannot identify who they are), and when one of the ladies at the lunch dies of mushroom poisoning a two week later her suspicions are aroused. She is joined in her madcap endeavor to discover who the murderer is by the nerdy son of another of the ladies at the luncheon. He has joined in the search purely to exonerate his mother who may fall under suspicion. Following the two, and then another murder both Francesca and Adam know that the murderer is getting cornered and will not hesitate to murder again. In this story the police detectives are notably absent other than an appearance or two. The murderer found and all ends well. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Lady's Keeper by Coirle Mooney

My reviewing has fallen behind mainly because my husband was ill and hospitalised. I dont know the system elsewhere but here in Sri Lanka someone has to be with the patient 24/7 and in this case it was me. I was able to read quite a bit whilst in hospital but reviewing had to wait till I got home. This story though described as medieval romance, is also quite historical. Detailing the life of Joanna and her guardian Aunt Alice, it also describes in fair detail the intricate, complicated lives of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry and the King's hold on the lands of both his and his wife and his refusal to let go. He was also of the "divide and rule" policy even between his sons which certainly did not leave room for sibling love. Eleanor had to fight tooth and nail for the rights of her sons. Joanna was a headstrong girl who arrived at the Court as a maiden along with Alice. Alice was a retiring personality who only wanted to secure a good, secure marriage for Joanna but she had her own ideas and followed her heart. She was swayed this way and that and also taken advantage of because of her personality, which did not win her any favours either amongst her colleagues or her suitors. The story was for me more historical than a romance and one I enjoyed very much. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Small Town Shock (Some Very English Murders No. 1) by Issy Brooks

Penny is tired of the rat race. She has retired (semi she hopes) to rural Lincolnshire. Everyone knows her as the Londoner. They also seem to know each other's business. It sounds quirky and quaint, but not I think if you have things to hide and value your privacy! Penny is a bit brash. She has not learnt the policy of thinking and speaking, it just comes out of her mouth. She acts first and thinks of the consequences later. All with genuinely good intentions and in this case, coming across a dead body in a field, Penny thinks she gets first dibs on finding who the killer is. The local Police constabulary seem very kind, very patient with her poking about in what is obviously police business but other than a gentle warning or two, she is left on her own and hence she tries and succeeds in uncovering the actual murderer. Told in a light hearted vein, this was slightly different to the other English village murder mysteries I've read. Different but interesting. A free download from Amazon who still do not allow me to post reviews! Sorry Issy Brooks.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Valet's Secret by Josi S. Kilpack

1819 and the novel starts out in rather unusual circumstances. A woman out for a walk, the heir to the manor also out on an uncontrollable horse. They meet, he rather knocks her down and then kisses her. Quite unusual for 1819. Completely out of the ordinary. He is taken to be the valet to the above heir, she is just a maid, separated from her husband to boot and in poor circumstances. Not the most opportune background for a romance. But unlikely though it is, it does happen. It was a light hearted romance with a background of arrogance amongst the aristocracy, definite class barriers, an abusive marital relationship and love conquers all. Nice. Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I've fallen behind on reading and reviewing due to personal commitments.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Murder at Westminster by Magda Alexander - 1920s historical cozy

I seem to be choosing more and more historical or vintage mystery books lately. Not a conscious decision but just seem to be drifting into that genre more and more. Kitty Worthington is drawn into a murder investigation when someone dear to her and her sister Sebastian - is the suspect in a murder of member of the nobility. His uncle and he did not get on at all, he despised his uncle and vice versa so it did not bode well for him when he could not provide an alibi for his whereabouts. Taken in by London detectives it is upto Kitty and her team assisted by Scotland Yard Inspector Crawford to try to find out what happened to the despicable duke, Romance, murder, the suffrage movement all highlighted in this story. Women's lib movement at the fore which made for an interesting side story. The detection hindered by 1920s traditions of women's place but Kitty with the support of her family shoulders on full speed ahead. Very good reading and an author I will be looking out for. Sent by Hearts Afire Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The German Wife by Debbie Rix

Despite the story being set towards the end of WWII, military and authoritarian regimes still exist sadly. Slow annhiliation of people based on ethnic, religious lines still go on apace and the rest of the world does nothing. We do not seem to have learnt anything from the Nazi experience. The Nazi regime, WWII and Hitler has brought about a whole world of writers - all the stories excellent reading, all convoluted and dealing with so many aspects of this horrible era in world history. This was another such book - told from the part of a SS family living in Germany - half of them faithful followers of Hitler until they were faced with the brutality of the regime. Dr Vogel was a research scientist. He considered himself a good German, faithful to Hitler's teachings until his career came head on with the torture and brutality of the camps. Dr Vogel was too involved in his work, and not made to suffer or allow his family to suffer and he went along with whatever was doled out till the end. His wife Annaliese far removed from his actual working life, did not know or rather preferred not to know what was going on in her husband's working life. The chilling factor in the story was that though Annaliese and Hans were married for eight years there were no children. This was a failing from the Reich's point of view. It was the duty of SS officers to have children and this could mean banishment for the Vogels. A machiavellian plan came up in Hans's mind to use the services of their gardener Alexander, a Russian prisoner to father a child for them. Annaliese was halfway in love with Alexander when the plan was discussed but Alexander himself was not aware of the plot till years after. The story takes over from there - continuing to the fall of the Nazis and the Vogels making their escape to America (separately) and a time apart. The twist in the story is different from other books dealing with the era - even from the Nazi angle and made it quite unique. Thanks to Bookouture who sent me this novel to read and give an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Dead Drop by Marilyn Todd

We had a weekend break after eleven months of not going anywhere. It is a part of our country called the up country and as it suggests are the hills in Sri Lanka. Tea grows there and just hills of green tea is in itself more than enough to satisfy the senses. Add to this quietness, a remarkable absence of many people and my happiness was complete. Sadly short lived and now back to bustling Colombo. On the reading front I've done well but been a bit remiss about reviews. So here goes. I've read one other book starring the bright Julia McAllister - a forensic photographer totally unheard of occupation for 1896. Getting by a carefully cultivated veneer of lies - a dead husband, a dead partner to the world not dead, because no one at the time will want to deal with a single woman running a business. Julia is stressed financially and her last scheme - was disrupted to put it mildly. Pornographic pictures for the titilation of the gentlemen of the aristocracy had to be closed down. It was lucrative while it lasted. Now Julia gets drawn into a murder once again. A circus is in town and she has offered three women accommodation in her house (so that she can cover her bills) and repay her loans. When one of them is found dead, thought to be initially suicide later ruled as murder, Julia takes it on herself to see that justice is done. The story runs the gamut of detection, false clues and suspects but the background to the story is the thing that adds so much color and interest. A circus in town, a lot of magic, a lot of characters all with plenty of secrets that they have no wish to be known. Very good reading. It cannot be just called a mystery murder. It was also very detailed and descriptive of the times it was set in. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Dying Game (Detective Mackenzie Price Book 4) by Ruhi Choudhary

When reading this kind of mystery/suspense genre I always think that the author must be so imaginative to think of so many different kind of plots and twists. None off the really good ones I've read (this comes into that category) are just straight forward detection. It is so convoluted, that the mind boggles at how did someone even imagine a twist in the tale. This is one of those devious ones. Mackenize is focussed and has a reputation in the department not to sufferr fools gladly. Much to heer dismay she is also part of a TV programme as the face of "female detectives" in the Lakemore PD Division. The town does not have a good image and the higher ups think it needs a revamp. The higher ups also do not like to irk the big businessmen as they bring in much needed investment into this town and this is where Mackenzie is going to set the cat amongst the pigeons. A girl disappears, her body is found. Beautiful, moneyed with no indication from where the money came from. A second woman disappears. This time a secretary. A run of the mill job. Nothing to mark her out. Her body is found. Then a pharmacist disappears and Mackenzie realizes that a psychopath is around or a serial killer. What connects the three girls. For most of the story there is no link up and then the connection appears in the form of the town's biggest business tycoon. Racing against time before the third woman dies, Mackenzie and her team are faced with an unimaginable shock when the daughter of one of the detectives is taken from her home and the pace really hots up then. Intense, emotional and gripping this was an excellent read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

Rosalind Franklin was certainly different from most women of her time. Focussed totally on her career in science, she escaped the demands of her family to conform to what they thought was the right way for a woman of wealth - to settle down with a husband, to involve herself in charity concerns in which the family was engaged in for decades. They thought her career and her achievements were second to these ideas. Whether in London or her sojourn in Paris and back again to England she was a leader in her field and did not allow peer pressure or the condescension of male colleagues pull her back. There were enough to support and encourage and recognize her for what she was. At great personal sacrifice and ultimately her untimely end, the world came to know about DNA and how it can help human kind to a great degree. Although the subject matter did get technical, it did not take away from the interest the story had and to the lay reader like me who read this story. Excellent story very well told. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Library by Bella Osborne

I keep reading and seeing the images of snow sweeping across parts of America. Here we are suffering from one of hottest periods of the year. It should'nt be like this. January is not a very hot humid month. We are promised rain, yesterday there was lightening and thunder aplenty but absolutely no rain - at least not where I live. I do wish some of that cold weather would sweep across Sri Lanka soon. It is not going to happen though. The read ! A story of how two people of vastly different generations - one a youngster, a bit brash, definitely unused to social situations and how to mix with people and then we have Maggie - a loner, running a run down farm with sheep and hens and managing somehow. They meet in the library because this is where Tom hopes to fix an interest with a girl but he does not have a clue how to go about it. Tom has issues with his father who has got into a slump of drinking and working and sleeping and who has no idea how to show affection to his son who is also suffering all alone, after his mother passed away. It does not seem that there is common ground for an acquaintance to grow but rescuing Maggie from a hoodlum who snatches her bag sets events in motion and the library setting helps the two characters along. Tom evolves into a helping caring person and Maggie finds companionship and friendship with an unlikely teenager. The bits and pieces in between add so much interest - especially when the library is threatened with closure and how a community comes together to try to save it. Very nice reading. A matter of fact look at life from two sides of the age divide. Sent by Aria & Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (A Kate Hamilton mystery)

Right now in our country there is no official lockdown. Schools are open, some universities are open, public service employees have all gone back to work (no roster now) (no working from home), restaurants and hotels are open with social distancing, masks on at all times, sanitising constantly but the spectre of omnicron and Delta persists. There are figures every day of the number of infections and the number of deaths and that does not seem to go down. Whether we just adapt and live and go on in this state or continue to isolate is a personal choice. Not an easy decision especially if you have the elderly or the sick in your homes. On the reading side actually things are looking pretty good. I am reading, putting up reviews regularly and generally am up to date. But in my personal life, everything seems to be on hold. I think this is true for a lot of my generation. Getting back to books! Kate Hamilton is helping run an antiques business - it was meant to be temporary but meeting Tom and deciding on getting married to him has put them both in a quandary. She has a home and a business back in America and Tom is well established in England. Their wedding date is fluid but she knows that this has to be decided. Tom's mother is the proverbial difficult mother in law and that problem has also got to be solved. The fact that Kate gets drawn into mystery and murders is part of the charm. Called with her boss Ivor to assess a painting which the owners believe is worth millions, despite everyone else's thoughts on the subject, Kate holds back sensing something is wrong. This literally sets the cat amongst the pigeons. A decades old story and several bodies turning up makes sure that Kate who is not the kind to let go of an investigation, doggedly pursues the case despite high ranking people influencing others to let it lie. Set in a small town atmosphere, the cozy is a good one. Good as a stand alone too. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Where There's a Will by Sulari Gentill (Rowland Sinclair No. 10)

Sulari Gentill brings to life a period in Australian history that is not very much written about. The mid 1930s urban Melbourne was very British, with all the good but with all the racism and so much more that was not so good. The story a very good blend of history, suspense and murder highlights life for the rich and famous (Rowland Sinclair) and also the way in which life was lived. The story is perfectly good as a stand alone though it is No. 10 in the series. Rowland Sinclair, rich, privileged is a different man to his peers - he has never let his wealth make him arrogant though he may be unaware of how he appears to outsiders at heart he is a straight forward, kind man. He leaves the machinations of power and wealth to his brother Will who he has to call upon in times of emergencies though. In this story we go to America where Rowland has been declared the executor of his friend Daniel Cartwright's will. Not straightforward at all, the will ruthlessly cuts out Daniel's brothers and sister, even turfing them out of the house they've always lived and handing over the entire huge estate to a total unknown. Finding Otis involves Rowland and his faithfull crew into one serious mess after another. The claimants to the will apart from people who know who Otis is and who are pretending otherwise do not want enquiries made. They want Rowland to go away leaving them to share their late brother's fortune which they think is their right. Rowland will not give up and several dangerous mishaps happen. The story is convoluted but extremely interesting. Going from Australia to America it delves into the underworld and how gangsters operate in every part of the world. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, I am very appreciative that I got this book. Sulari Gentill is originally from Sri Lanka and that gives me a personal stake in reading all her books! Sent via Netgalley.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Body on the Moor

A story based on a horrible true story of two cold blooded, sadistic murderers who tortured and killed young people as they took pleasure in the killing and how the sudden disappearance of seven year old girl triggered the hunt for not just her, but then all the people who had disappeared over the years in this area without a trace. Manchester 1965 an urban setting. Connie is a single mother, careless and indifferent to her daughter Kathy. Kept inside a car while her mother and boyfriend are in a pub for hours on end Kathy opens the door of the car and wanders towards the sound of lambs bleating inside a lorry. This is the beginning of Kathy's adventure and disappearance. Simultaneously Ronald and Tom two single men run a farm on the far moors. Isolated and desolate they harbour a major secret of their own and for this reason eschew any company. The appearance of Kathy on their farm like an apparition becomes the focus of Tom's life and even Ronald though he knows, he should inform the authorities keeps Kathy protected and guarded as she obviously has been physically abused by her mother. Alongside these stories, is the one of Connie now bereft of her daughter, her partner chief suspect in the missing girl and her world disintegrating into pathos and guilt. With the help of cheap whiskey and Valium. Her friend Myra is suddenly totally different, crude and wicked and Myra's boyfriend Ian is even more so. Connie was a naive, simple girl who could not read characters or behavior very well and who accepted everything at face value. The setting of the story alternating between urban Manchester and the isolated moors could not be more of a contrast for this fast paced thriller. Some of the coincidences are too good to be true, but the story holds your interest throughout. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. On another note, covid cases are rising but everything is unrestricted right now. Schools have fully opened (children being vaccinated though), universities open, everyone in public service has to report for work, no rosters anymore and restaurants are fully open with measures in place for social distancing masks etc. I do not know how long these will be effective. We just wait and see.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Dressmaker's Secret by Lorna Cook

Combining one of the most tense periods in Parisian history - the time Hitler swept into Paris and took it over completely and the shock of the average French person who could not believe this unimaginable thing that befell their country. The story also featured the enigmatic and controversial Coco Chanel - herself described as a collaborator but one who was very clever at disguising the truth and who eventually got away with the whole thing. The main story however is about Adele, Chanel's assistant who from very humble beginnings started work as an assistant to Chanel and when the occupation of Paris happened became a jack of all trades for Chanel, her right hand man almost handling all Chanel's work and thus knowing much more of her activities than anyone else did. Adele was horrified at the proximity of the Nazis at the Ritz Hotel where Chanel lived and the fact that Chanel actively participated in all Nazi social gatherings. Chanel was a survivor and her way was to join them rather than fight them. Adele was swept into it because she had no other option. Being an orphan she had no home to go to but her meeting an American doctor brought her love and help in a great way for the one act of Resistance she did. Finding and keeping a Jewish infant (an act which would have brought instant death if discovered) she provided a refuge for the child and Dr. Dixon helped her out in this. The story continues with Dr Dixon's disappearance in a raid and the end of all Adele's hopes for the future. The end of the story was a happy one and a totally unexpected one. The story however has a dual timeline and we also face Chloe who is in fact ADele's grand daughter. She has taken a gap year and works in Paris. Never knowing anything about her French ancestry and what Adele did during the war, she is now drawn into the story of where her grandmother worked, and finding a friend who is more knowledgeable than she is she starts on unraveling the story of Adele and Chanel. WW stories are so sad, so emotional in so many aspects the fact that this ended well years later was something that was different and very pleasing to read. The story of Chanel was as much a part of the story as Adele's story and this added a great deal of impact to the story. The story of Chloe in present times and her part in bringing a story that remained buried for decades (Adele's story) was a part of this story. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Ghost of Glendale by Natalie Kleinman

Regency England. Phoebe Marcham is 24 years old and by the standards of the day practically on the shelf. She has not been successful in finding a husband despite two seasons in London, much to her Aunt's dismay but fortunately for an enlightened father who sees no reason to chivy her to find a partner, she lives a well settled and contented life in Glendale, their family home. A visit from her Aunt upsets all her serenity and her father's as well as the lady can be a demanding one. She is bringing her daughter with her which compensates as the cousins get on well. Entertainment has to be arranged and Phoebe calls on her friend Rupert to help. Rubert's good friend Duncan from Scotland is also there and there seems to be an immediate attraction between the two men and the two young ladies. There is however a resident ghost whom Phoebe is adamant lives in the house and is restless because of a love affair which was doomed and which ended in his beloved dying in a storm. Duncan is very keen to help Phoebe uncover the history of the story and finding journals and diaries in her mother's drawing room and then calling on the help of the other side - the girl who died, they try to piece the pieces of the tragic story. The story is thus two genres - one the love story between Phoebe and Duncan and the ghost who is restless and is finally put to rest. A little bit of a historical romance coupled with the paranormal this was a pleasant story to read. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A Three Book Problem by Vicki Delaney

The story was attractive for me because of the Sherlock Holmes connection. There was a Sherlock Holmes bookshop (what could be better than that) complete with all the gee gaws that made up Holmes and his side kick. We have a Sherlockian David having a massive weekend do at the old world manor with a full Sherlockian theme including dress and food of the era. We have Jayne serving the food and various others helping out from housekeeping to bartending all different from their usual jobs. When the host gets killed by a poisoned dart of all things, the frolic stops and the serious work of detection starts. Gemma who was the co ordinator for the weekend is now on full alert to find out whatever she could to help the detectives, though sadly they feel that her help is more hindrance than anything else. This does not stop her though. This was a pleasant cozy and my first introduction to the series. Good as a stand alone. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Before the Crown by Flora Harding

1943 England and the present Queen was just a very young girl. A particularly sheltered young woman despite the future she knew and her family knew she had to face. Tutored to accept the responsibility of the Crown and all it entailed Elizabeth was not frivolous but very grounded even at that age. She knew what was expected of her and did not shirk from it but in her choice of husband she stood very firm. Philip of Greece despite his royal connections and background was impoverished, without a country, without a home with an eccentric mother and a libertine father. His parents lived separate lives and this put together did not give a very comfortable picture for not just the British administration but also the people who looked on him as a foreigner. He had the further disadvantage of three sisters married to very senior SS officers during the Hitler regime and this was hard to live down. Surprisingly Elizabeth who was mild had decided very early on that he was the most suitable husband for her, and despite that love was not discussed in the initial stages the couple felt that they were comfortable with each other and that progress could be possible. It was a very prosaic way to start a marriage but their feelings of friendship gradually developed over time (a prolonged period which was insisted on by Elizabeth's father) mainly hoping that the relationship would break up! The story covers the period upto Elizabeth's fairy tale wedding to Philip. Even without knowing the future, it augured very well the way it started. Very pleasant read. A download from Amazon