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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Murder by the Book by Martin Edwards

The collection of short stories in this book were all very good. They were mainly puzzles and you had to be imaginative in seeing what was beyond the actual happening and then piece it together. I couldn't do it but the way the stories unravelled were rivetting. A murder on a train was one of the more easily solved crimes, but the story of a deceased leaving clues was very enjoyable. A Savage Game was set in a country house (I always like those settings) and was cleverly done. A Man and his Mother in Law was also clever where the murderer was caught because he thought he was so clever. It was through a sale of a book that he got caught! Dear Mr. Editor - the writer was mad and that set the tone of the story. The collection was very relaxed reading. It was not edge of the seat suspense but it reflected a slower pace of life and detection. It also described the conventions and stereotyping that happened at the time which was fair. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Dastardly Deeds at St. Bride's by Debbie Young

I am so late on reviews and reading as well. Just got back after three months in Melbourne and find that catching up is taking longer than before. The title got me intrigued as I thought a convent school and I am always interested in that background. St Bride's is a posh school set in beautiful surroundings with an odd mix of teachers - more than meets the eye definitely as all of them have secrets they will like to hold onto. Gemma joining them was perfect she was running away from a controlling boyfriend, she did not want to be found and at St. Bride's she thought she found the perfect niche. Coupled with eccentric teachers and pleasant work place Gemma fit in easily but she is curious by nature and it is this curiosity that uncovers a whole bundle of secrets - combining suspense, comedy, escapism by the bucketful and ended up being a very good relaxing read. Descriptive of the English countryside and its people the book was a good fun read. Sent by Boldwood Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Gentlewoman Spy by Adele Jordan

The lady detectives of the 16th century - at least the ones I've read have all been ladies of the aristocracy who have the intelligence and keenness to turn their hands to detecting. In this story in 1584 the young spy is Kit a woman of no known background though one has suspicions of her lineage though nothing is said. Walsingham Queen Elizabeth's spy master has discovered a plot which seeks to murder the Queen and place Mary Queen of the Scots on the throne. First despatched to Scotland to access a prisoner who may be able to give them clues Kit succeeds in this mission, disguised as a soldier. When the plot focuses on London she has to team up with someone whom she does not trust and finds hard to work with. Iomhar whom she has to work with is equally hesitant to work with Kit but there is no choice in the matter. How the aristocracy in London has penetrated the court, got easy access to the Queen and thus able to carry out an assassination is plotted through this story. Apart from the detective genre here, there is plenty of historical fiction to keep one on one's toes! Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Sometime Sisters by Carolyn Brown

Dysfunctional families have their own complicated stories to tell and this one is no different. Three sisters and one niece meet after years on the death of their grandmother. She has left them a small guest house, a store selling bait and fishing stuff and has stipulated that she would like them to run the business each one taking on one line of the work. Under the guidance of Uncle Zed who has been there for ages and who is very fond of the girls and hopes that the experiment will work. This was a good feeling kind of ending. All three girls came from chequered backgrounds, with broken relationships in them. All needed stability but all three were suspicious that they could ever agree and pull together and work as a team. That they could and did was a surprise to all, and in the face of any outside interference they were loyal to one another. A family story that ended well. This was a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Murder Mystery (A Beth Haldane Mystery Book 1) by Alice Castle

Beth is a young widow with a small son. Having landed a job at Wyatts the local prestigious boys school in Dulwich she is very keen to establish herself as an archivist in the school and ultimately hope that it will pave the way for her son to get admission to this school. What she did not envisage is finding her boss murdered just hours after she started working. The archivist was unpleasant, unhelpful and a bit of a lecher. When the detectives started swarming the school, it seemed that there were many undercurrents at play - the murdered man's wife acted strangely, a receptionist at the school seemed to have been on very good terms with the archivist, the Principal wanted to keep everything under wraps and maintain the good name of the school come what may. The story was a good one. I could never figure out why just because Beth discovered the body, she should consider herself the first suspect and did everything in her power to figure this out. She met the man for the first time on the day she started work, she had nothing to gain from his murder and she was terrified that she would be arrested. It seemed a bit over the top. Beth investigating the crime and being more successful than Detective York is the detective genre at play here but her trying to show that she had nothing to do with the murder was overplayed. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

The style of writing in this book is so reminiscent of P D James that I just had to finish it in one go. My last book I picked up from Glen Waverley library because I am leaving for Colombo tomorrow the 28th August. The story starts in very peaceful countryside and Detective Archie Penrose does not expect to find the horror he does. In an abandoned grave, Archie finds the mutilated body of the church organist, a private man who did not antagonise anyone and who led a very quiet life. No apparent enemies and the only significant piece of evidence is a torn photograph of a house with a few words on it. Trying to piece the clues of this brutal murder takes Archie back to Cambridge and to a group of young men who on the surface do not have any close links other than they were members of a choral group. They are today scattered in different professions, one of them dead, one dying of cancer, the others seemingly harmless very highly placed and one particularly boorish bully. Finding no cooperation within this group of men, and also having one by one them picked off does not bode well for the Police because they cannot find who the murderer is. The only clues are the choir and the remaining members are tight lipped. Alongside this, a series of rapes and brutal attacks on women have put the Police on full alert as the numbers keep mounting. This puts more pressure on the police force and Inspector Webster is the most empathetic of the Force because other officers do not give the assaults and the victims the support they should have. The story is complicated and intense, the detective work is detailed and intricate and extremely involved. Uncovering the strands is a tough job and needs focus even whilst reading let alone solving it. Alongside the two strands of the rapes and the murders, we have Archie's own personal history being in the forefront of the story. His love affair with Bridget who also now lives in Cambridge and the discovery of a twenty year old secret in the form of a daughter he never knew he had are two additional strands to the story. Josephine Tey's involvement is almost like a sideline in this particular story albeit an important one. I couldnt put this book down till I read it fully.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Death Down the Aisle by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift mystery)

I like the indomitable spirit of Lady Eleanor who is definitely different from ladies of this era. Totally modern in the very best sense of the word, fair and just employer with a sense of humour and love towards all. Also an excellent detective and along with the love of her life the very clever Detective Hugh can solve most mysteries. In this story Constance is getting married in a few days and she seems to have it all - a distinguished bridegroom, money in plenty, very much in love with her groom and everything on track till the small matter of a murder of a girl who turns out to be the ex fiancee of the bridegroom. All hell breaks out with the bride's father refusing his consent to the marriage at all, the groom in custody but the bride believes in her groom and Lady Eleanor is sought to clear his name. The story is a good who dunnit going through the list of suspects (which grows) with each passing day starting from the bridegroom's mother a very nasty lady to the bride's own father with reasons of his own. The star of the story however is the relationship between Clifford the butler and Lady Eleanor. Discreet, indispensable, impeccable in behaviour and appearance, a fountain of knowledge and always there when needed this is a story in itself. Captivating reading. Very descriptive of the times and behaviour of all. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris by Daisy Wood

Set in WWII in Paris and then moving to the present times, the story as is usual in two time lines links what is seemingly inexplicable and a mystery. Juliette has come to France with her husband - it has been a dream of her for so very long to recapture the world of her grandmother's past in France and now that she is actually in Paris she feels a connection that is scoffed at by her husband. Whilst on holiday, Juliette accidentally discovers that her husband has been unfaithful from a message she inadvertently read and that seals her decision to stay on in France and try to find out more about her grandmother and her family history. We then backtrack to occupied France and how the persecution of the Jews saw many French people come out to help to try to save as many people as they could. We see here Jacques the owner of the original bookshop and his wife Mathilde. Mathilde was more active in the Resistance and was interrogated on suspicion. Jacques was hesitant to get involved until his hand was almost forced by the humanitarian problem facing Parisians. Jacques begins leading a double life - holding people facing persecution in a hidden chamber in his house, buying books from Jewish families needing money and then being befriended by a Nazi official who was looking for book treasures but who also helped him by warning him of imminent arrests. The story in present day times was equally good. Juliette finds her dream bookshop decides to stay, become a small businesswoman in Paris, finds love again and gets to the bottom of her grandmothers story. Extremely good reading, wonderfully strong characters and the mix of history, family saga, romance and life was very captivating. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A Truth Most Treacherous by Genevieve Essig

Florida 1884 was a very mixed, very exotic place to live in. Cassie has come there and though she is wanting to avoid any investigation, a murder almost finds her when she discovers the body of Chester Pence floating in a canal. Chester was a nasty customs officer who had lots of dubious dealings and whose reputation for being racist and unfair were rampant. The historical details in this novel were many and for outsiders would be very informative. The beginning of Florida as a center for tourists, for development of a port and being cosmopolitan was just beginning and this was the backdrop for the story. The treatment of the Chinese community and the backlash they faced is also highlighted in the book. The murder of Chester Pence and the other murders which followed and Cassie's romantic involvement and the story that surrounds the investigation is just part of this story. The history and the development of this state forms the other. Both combine very well to give one a very good story similar to those written by Verity Knight. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

I see London I see France by Paulita Kincer

I had downloaded this book quite a while ago and thought that while I am in Melbourne I will read this book which also deals with moving between countries! Since I am moving back to Colombo tomorrow it seems apt! Caroline is taken aback when her husband walks out of the house after an argument. The subject of the argument looking back is a minor one. Caroline then decides to take a bold step of taking her children to tour Europe selling her minivan and moving from London to Paris, Scotland and Provence pursuing her steps as an au pair in her younger days and tracking the man whom she had passion for when she worked as an au pair. We follow their journey through these cities and it is almost like a travelogue which was very descriptive and detailed and the story of Caroline and her dilemma is one that faces many women when a marriage breaks down. Does one continue in the same rut, or do you take this as an opening to break free, try new things use this as a challenge. Good reading for women who accept a challenge.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson

Ida and Louisa have a very sedate life. One works as a government clerk, and Ida loves to write, often scribbling down snippets and notes of ideas for stories. Their love for opera sees them scrimping and saving to buy opera tickets and then daringly actually going to opera houses in Europe to see their stars perform. During the course of these visits they are befriended by the celebrities themselves who are charmed by the simplicity of the sisters. When Austria and subsequently Poland followed by France are overswept by the Nazis, Ida and Louise set up a system of trying to help Jews to get out of Europe by a system of sponsorship. To this end during their frequent visits to Europe, they take with them the jewels and furs of the Jews who have managed to save them as a guarantee of their stays in London and elsewhere. The system works despite Ida and Louisa's total lack of training in this kind of work - work they do with their entire hearts and minds overcoming great odds and personal dangers to get as many people as they could out of these countries. The novel is based on a true story and links and snippets as to actual events are highlighted at the end of the chapters but the appeal of the story is the simple, straightforward lifestyle of two very middle class sisters who stepped out of their comfort zone to help people who were unknown to them. An inspiring read of two very down to earth heroines. Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Orphans of Mersea House by Marty Wingate

Postwar England 1957. Respectable ladies when they left bereft of any income what does one do. Olive finds herself after a lifetime of caring for everyone else totally alone - she has no financial back up, no one to turn to and with the avenues of employment also restricted she really does not know what to do next. At the very last minute her friend Marjery turns up with a brilliant offer. Relocating from London, she has decided to re-open her uncle's shop with upto the minute, modern appliances for the home none of which is available in their village, and open the house as a lodging. She offers the post of housekeeper to Olive who accepts it gratefully. Lodgers aside, a ward of Margery appears. A little girl stricken with polio and now in caliphers. Though she is Marjery's ward, it is Olive who falls in love with the little girl and seeks to protect her against any ill wisher or ignorant villager who may be harsh to Juniper. The story highlights the ignorance about polio and also a hitherto unspoken of subject - homosexuality. The story is a lovely warm hearted read - reaching out to everyone around. It ends well for everyone but it is descriptive and very well told. Sent by Alcove Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Gracious Neighbour by Chris Cander

Martha has never felt that she quite fitted in with the crowd. She felt she was always on the edges, not getting either the clothes vibe right or the conversation right. When Minnie, a girl who was a mate at school comes next door to live, Martha is elated thinking that with her polished syle Minnie is going to be Martha's entre into society. Alternately ignored or welcomed Martha still not get what drives Minnie to act the way she does and what starts as just plain curiosity as to what her neighbours do, ends up in real stalking. Martha does not intend actual harm to either Minnie or her husband John but she is intensely curious about their lifestyle, the poshness of it all, and then the bickering and what seems to go beyond the surface veneer of the glam life. Martha herself would be unrecognisable as the normal stalker, if ever there was a definition of one but things spiral out of control and she is apparently caught in trying to catch up, make amends and do it all. The story highlights of one aspect of keeping up with the Joneses and what happens when you feel slighted that you do not have it the way someone else does. Envy in a slightly different form but to what extent you would go to have it all. A very insightful read into human behaviour. Sent by Little A for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. This post brings me to the end of a two and a half month stay in Melbourne. It was immensely good for me, but I do have to get back home!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Beach Club by Elin Hildebrand

Mack has been working as the Manager at the Beach Club for the last twelve years. Every year has passed in a pattern but this year his late father's lawyer calls with disturbing news. His manager at the farm is retiring and a decision has to be taken as to the farm's future. It is quite an extensive property far removed from Nantucket and the hotel. His girlfriend of twelve years wants to get married and though he loves her dearly, he cannot understand why he does not want to commit. She is also pressurising him to secure his future by asking for a profit share in the Club. When Vance who is Macks second in command forces him at literal gunpoint to come clean to Marribel his girlfriend about his association with a guest at the hotel Mack knows that it is now crunch time. The story revolves around Mack and his indecisions about what to do. Other characters though important to the story are secondary. On top of it all, a hurricane sweeps across the island and this seems to be the starting point for change for all the inhabitants of the hotel. Although a typical light hearted holiday read, this was full of people who faced very basic fears of living alone, of abandoned love and bleak futures to be faced by some. A book I picked up from Glen Waverley library.

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

I was very curious about this book and I knew I could never get it in Sri Lanka. I had forgotten about it till I came to Melbourne and picked it up from the library. I must be one of the last readers to get to this very long and interesting story. Pagford is a small town in England divided into two distinct parts. The Fields the lower end of town inhabited by those with limited or no incomes and then the upper crust Pagford who feel (at least some of them) that they pay un necessarily for the ameneties and benefits of the Fields inhabitants most of whom they feel do not want to improve their lot but continue to depend on dole outs from the council. Into this scene comes the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother one of the council members and this death causes a "casual vacancy" and in its turn sets off a maelstrom of action, inaction, devastation, death and so much more. The number of characters are quite large, they ebb and flow with the story and most of them are constant even on the periphery because they are all relevant in some way to the larger picture and each plays an extremely important part in the whole. The book is a definite adult styled story and is an excellent read. Highlighting some of the lesser nice characters of humans ranging from avarice, envy, lust and greed there is plenty of profanity, drug abuse which makes it more suitable for adults. The book was a very long one and since I took a large print, it was really very long! Thpugh late to the party I loved it and am just grateful that I got to it eventually.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Very Typical Family by Sierra Godfrey

The title is misleading. The family is anything but typical. At the age of fourteen Natalie called the police when she found her brother and sister at a party where they were all high on drugs and one teenager actually died. They were both sent to prison and neither of them had forgiven her though they are both out of prison now. Years have gone by, the family has split up, no communication between the mother and Natalie either. Natalie faces obstacles of her own at her job in New York. Ear marked for the top job, she is ousted at the very last minute by her boyfriend of whom she had such high hopes of making the relationship permanent. Heart broken mainly by what she feels as betrayal at work, Natalie is then faced with a letter from a lawyer, saying her mother has died and left the ancestral home to the three children who can inherit provided they actually come together to the house. The lawyer says there is no acknowledgement to the letters sent to her siblings upto date. This is how the story starts. Natalie undertakes the long journey back home, hoping to get some space from her relationship and her heart break and try to overcome the break up with her brother and sister as well. The story goes through several hiccups at every stage before a reunion of any kind can happen. Trying to put a dysfunctional and deeply hurt family together again is never going to be easy. The story is emotional, draining but a very good one. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, August 19, 2022

The Light House Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

The story surrounding Grace Darling set in the remote Farne Islands who operated the lighthouse along with her father but who could never become an official light house keeper because of her sex, combines the best of a number of genres. History in plenty, the courage and daring and innovation shown by a woman in 1838. Saving a group of shipwrecked survivors was the beginning of the story and the ties that were forged during that operation are then brought forward again in 1938 when Hannah Emmerson seeks refuge with Harriet now a light house keeper in Rhode Island to wait out her pregnancy. Her mother in Ireland is too ashamed of her daughter and just wants the whole story to be swept under the carpet and out of her sight. Just nineteen Hannah starts on her journey to America and her entire life changes as a result. Both 1838 and 1938 with the lighthouse as the main background are depicted very vividly. The life of lighthouse keepers in 1838 was not an easy one - apart from the isolation, it demanded loyalty and hard work and constant attention to detail. In 1939 with the addition of technology it became easier but the principles of hard work and attention to detail remained. The lives of these two women are detailed very descriptively and one is drawn into the whole saga of how these lighthouses work. Give the background of 1938 and WWII added more interest to the story. This book was a free download from Amazon and I am grateful as it opened a new vista for me - lighthouses and the courageous women who manned them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Paris for One and other stories by Jo Jo Moyes

I have been trying for the longest to get to this author and was never successful. This book was through the local library at Glen Waverley in Melbourne and hopefully I will be able to get another book before I leave for Sri Lanka by the end of this month. This collection of short stories starts with the Paris for One which is also the longest one of the lot. Each story involves a woman and the story is from the angle of the woman. In Paris for one Nell decides to act out of character. Planning a weekend in Paris with her boyfriend who ditches her, she now has to salvage what was left of the weekend. How she goes from despair to euphoria and how the weekend ultimately evolves is the story. Crocodile Shoes how a misplaced bag and a fancy Louboutini changed someone's life was very good. What a new hair cut and a trip to the salon could do! The Christmas List highlights how one should celebrate not as a rote, but because we want to and with people whom we care about otherwise it is just another day. The entire collection some very short and some novellas, held me interested throughout.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mydworth Mysteries No. 1 - A Shot in the Dark by Neil Richards & Matthew Costello

1929 rural Sussex. The year may be 1929 but it looks as feudal attitudes are going to take a very long time to die down. Sir Harry has returned after a diplomatic spell in Egypt along with his clever, modern American wife Kat. That alone is exciting and turbulent but as they get off their steamner, an urgent summons for Harry to come to the Foreign Office sees Kat going to Mydworth on her own. She is a bold young woman, driving in a country she doesnt know, to meet relatives she has only heard about and aristocratic as they come, their welcome is as tepid as expected. When a jewel robbery is what faces Kat as she arrives, followed by a random shooting of the robber as he tries to get away the couple have to use use their skills and contacts to try to solve this their first investigation in England. Finding who the murdered man was, the motives for the robbery and then solving the mystery was entertaining. I liked the setting, the era particularly, the relationship between not just Harry and Kat but the entire cast around them. This was a free download from Amazon. I will be looking out for the rest in the series.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Where the Sky Begins by Rhys Bowen

1940 London - Josie Banks is an out and out city girl. She wouldn't know what to do in the countryside. The quiet and silence of it would drive her nuts. Surrounded by people and noise she finds it alien but this is going to be her life after being evacuated from London and all that she is familiar with. First her husband Stan gets called up. Not the most loving of relationships, he was anyway her choice but then he goes. She finds employment with a Russian Jew who has opened a tea room and helps her out, bwfriending her as well. That gets bombed and the old lady dies. She then moves on but she gets bombed out of her own house, with literally not a stitch of clothing. Thats how the evacuation to the countryside starts. It was usually children who get evacuated so when they find themselves with a grown woman without a stitch to her name, the authorities scramble to find a place for her. Miss. Harcourt and her servant Kathleen are not welcoming. They are suspicious and supercilious and Josie is not made to feel welcome. Little by little Josie overcomes the obstacles facing them all, settles in and makes a life for herself and the family as best as she could. Josie has a good heart, is willing to see beyond the arrogance of Miss Harcourt and see the loneliness and heartbreak that has madeher what she is. Kathleen is a different kettle of fish - blowing hot and cold alternately. Josie's sojourn during the war is very beautifully documented - the travails of wartime rationing, how people made do and this adds to so much apart from the story of how Josie gets involved in sussing out a spy in their midst. This will eventually lead to Josie's future working at Bletchley Park but that I hope will be another good story. This was historical fiction very well told, documenting the daily life of Britons as well as the overall aspect of WWII Sent by General Fiction (Adult) Women's Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson

The mass evacuation in September 1939 from London to the countryside of thousands of children was a lesson in planned logistics. Of course like all plans something has to go wrong somewhere and one isolated incident did Two children went missing, one got misplaced due to sheer mischief and families all around and a community went to pieces. In a small Suffolk village Josephine has to come to terms with the onset of war, and that her partner and lover Martha is leaving to go to America. In such uncertain times when she will come back is unknown. On top of that with the missing girl from a fair in open view of all the villagers is something that has to be tracked down carefully to find out what happened to the little girl. As usual in Upson's novels, nothing is as straight forward as just a missing girl and when the story is unravelled we find one missing girl, two missing girls and then bodies. Complicated in its telling you have to follow the stories of several families who try to deal with the trauma of separated families - husbands at the warfront, wives alone without the emotional support children can give you and not knowing whether your children are happy, settled and safe. I was also thinking of how in the present context of what my grandson was told "stranger danger" how we would deal with this forced separation. Anti vaxxer protests will be nothing compared when parents take to the streets! I dont blame them either. (the parents not the anti vaxxers!) The story made one think and drew the reader into the emotional morass of it. Like Nicola Upson always does. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

The style of writing in this book is so reminiscent of P D James that I just had to finish it in one go. My last book I picked up from Glen Waverley library because I am leaving for Colombo tomorrow the 28th August. The story starts in very peaceful countryside and Detective Archie Penrose does not expect to find the horror he does. In an abandoned grave, Archie finds the mutilated body of the church organist, a private man who did not antagonise anyone and who led a very quiet life. No apparent enemies and the only significant piece of evidence is a torn photograph of a house with a few words on it. Trying to piece the clues of this brutal murder takes Archie back to Cambridge and to a group of young men who on the surface do not have any close links other than they were members of a choral group. They are today scattered in different professions, one of them dead, one dying of cancer, the others seemingly harmless very highly placed and one particularly boorish bully. Finding no cooperation within this group of men, and also having one by one them picked off does not bode well for the Police because they cannot find who the murderer is. The only clues are the choir and the remaining members are tight lipped. Alongside this, a series of rapes and brutal attacks on women have put the Police on full alert as the numbers keep mounting. This puts more pressure on the police force and Inspector Webster is the most empathetic of the Force because other officers do not give the assaults and the victims the support they should have. The story is complicated and intense, the detective work is detailed and intricate and extremely involved. Uncovering the strands is a tough job and needs focus even whilst reading let alone solving it. Alongside the two strands of the rapes and the murders, we have Archie's own personal history being in the forefront of the story. His love affair with Bridget who also now lives in Cambridge and the discovery of a twenty year old secret in the form of a daughter he never knew he had are two additional strands to the story. Josephine Tey's involvement is almost like a sideline in this particular story albeit an important one. I couldnt put this book down till I read it fully.

Friday, August 5, 2022

A Botanists Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

1923 and it is not an easy era for women who want something more from their life - not only marriage and children but a career of some kind. Saffron has fought her peers and colleagues for a spot on the research team and she is well suited for the job but fighting prejudices and sneers from her colleagues is getting too much to bear. When her boss who has always been supportive of her is accused of murder, by using his botanical knowledge to kill off a fellow researcher, Saffron knows she has to use her analytical skills as best as she could to get him free. The botanical theme throughout the book, the characters not just the main one all added interest and substance to the story. The touch of romance was judiciously right not overpoweringly so and the book provided to be a good read, on a subject which for many may be boring. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Guilty Creatures edited by Martin Edwards

This collection of slightly vintage mystery stories had something for everybody who is a fan of this genre. Slow moving in some, fast paced in others, quiet characters, forward and pushy characters in others it ran the full gamut of characters which added up to a very satisfying whole. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

Judith is elderly and very happy with her life and the way it is going. When her neighbour Stefan is murdered and when the local police seem to dismiss her as a cranky old lady, she decides to join up with two other ladies Suzie and the very prim Becks, the vicar's wife to embark on a bit of detection and try to sort out who murdered whom. When a second murder occurs, they step up their action - in a head on, amateur attempt but which is strangely successful and keeps them out of harms way though they come perilously close on several occasions of endangering themselves. They do not follow protocol or procedure and ignore the local police force but come up trumps with clues and suspects - much more than the local police. The setting itself was picturesque - how these murders take place in serene, quiet and such pretty locales is something to ponder! A well rounded mystery detective story. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Certain Darkness by Anna Lee Huber

I like the stories featuring Verity and her husband Sydney. Her exploits during WWI are brave, courageous and stuff that other women did not do. Sydney was himself a brave soldier and one who thankfully came out of the war alive. That they are able to make a life together after the harrowing preceeding years is a miracle. Now they are called upon to go back to espionage and find out secrets that are hazardous and will set the world alight. Verity finds the civilian life rather too quiet for her taste and she is longing to get the bit between her teeth but Sydney is the ideal partner - putting on the brakes and making sure she does not risk it all for the sake of her work. He makes her realize that in the end her life and his matters, and that they came out of the War not to destroy themselves but to make a life together. The story going back to Belgium, Netherlands and past characters in their lives all trying to get this report which will rock Europe. Very high on espionage, thrills, this is a page turner. Sent by Kensington Books for an honest review courtesy of Netgalley.

Death at the Manor (Book No 3 in the Lily Adler series) Katharine Schellman

The mix of Regency and a female detective are very attractive. Lily Adler has been a favourite of mine since I read one book of her exploits. I was so glad when Netgalley sent me this one too. Lily is pragmatic and she is looking forward to a quiet companionship with her aunts in Hampshire. She is accompanied by her friends and is looking forward to meeting Mathew Spencer whom she has a fondness for. Arriving in this small village, her interest and the interests of her companions is aroused by the stories surrounding a ghost in a manor bordering the village. The story takes off from there. Visiting this manor house, Lily is not met just by stories of a ghost who has been seen by many in the house, but also by the death of the mistress of the house - supposedly at the hands of the ghost. Unfortunately the local magistrate is not willing to deal with a proper investigation but is willing to pass it off as a death by an unknown party. Not attributing it to a ghost or to a human being either. Lily sets in motion an enquiry with Bow Street and uncovers a story of intrigue. The obvious suspects are taken into custody but with no real proof - only suspicion and the actual villain of the piece gets away almost scotfree. Very lovely setting - the English countryside and the English countryside way of life adds piquancy to the story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Old Bones Lie by Marion Todd

I am still in Melbourne though visits to the library were few and far between! I've had plenty of books on my Kindle to catch up on and it is rather necessary as I seem to be lagging way behind on some of them. It is still very cold (cold for my tropical bones anyway) with no sign of letting up. I think the weather will ease by September but by then I'll be back in humid and hot Sri Lanka! This book started out like all detective stories do. A mystery but with no dead bodies strangely. A prisoner going on a visit for a funeral goes missing along with the two prison officers accompanying him, and the van. Strangely their two wives were abducted simultaneously and returned unharmed a couple of days later. That was stranger then one of the detectives wanders into the precinct unharmed, the other is still missing. That is the scenario for DI Claire Mackay to sort out and she is now over ruled by the big boss in the form of Ben who turns up, takes over the investigation, leaving a now murder vicitim to Claire's detecting skills. Ben is secretive, shares very little information seems to be going over Claire's head. The story uncovered finally is something else. The murder of one woman was almost an accident, the prison escape was carefully planned and all to solve a robbery of years past worth a good packet of money. Everyone seems to be linked but it is hard to link them together. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

I am in Melbourne still and greedily picking up books from recommendations by blogger mainly from the Glen Waverley library. My Netgalley downloads have got neglected as a result and I am a bit behind on reading and reviewing. It is freezing weather here (for me). Coming from Sri Lanka is a shock to the system but I am enjoying the company of family and friends. The food of course! Melbourne is a food eaters paradise - the variety offered in even the smallest shopping area is vast and tasty and very reasonable. This book by an Australian author of Sri Lankan origin suited me very well. I've loved all the reads I've done by this author and this one did not disappoint too. Set in the august presence of the Boston library Hannah is writing a book and finding inspiration hard to come by. A book within a book genre if there is one. Hannah is Australian and she is inspired by correspondence by an American writer Leo. Hannah's character is Freddie and whilst in the midst of writing gets embroiled in a murder initiated by a scream. That initial scream sets off a series of horrendous events ending with another murder and the suspicion falling on this small group. The evidence against each one of them stacks up and the author very cleverly directs one in every which way which makes for very confusing conclusions - all wrong! The story was a little convoluted with several blind alleys, wrong turns for the reader but it ended very neatly. Another good mystery novel from Gentill. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Murder at the Priory Hotel by Merryn Allingham

It is the year of writing that draws me in to this kind of detective fiction. 1957 Sussex countryside very engaging characters - a small share of villains but generally everyone peaceful, minding their own business but at the same time being a village everyone knows everyone. A time that is not going to come back going by present day times. A certain innate sense of goodness seems to prevail in these stories. A musical group has arrived for the opening of a renovated hotel and everyone is rooting for its success. The group is rather flashy but it is hoped that it will interest the youngsters to give the hotel a try. When the lead singer is electrocuted on stage at the opening song, it smells of doom for the hotel especially when it seems that it was deliberate and therefore a murder. Flora and Jack friends of Sally the present owner are amateur sleuths and they privately start looking around for clues as to how Beverley was murdered. Like in their previous escapades, they have to work secretly so as not to get the local Constabulary all hot and bothered and the duo soon discover hidden depths to whatever was beningn on the surface. Flora is the owner of a bookshop and Jack is a struggling crime writer and the relationship works well for detection alongside the other characters which appear in the series. The story is a good example of a cosy mystery, set in a countryside atmosphere with engaging characters and good detection skills. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Summer of 69 by Erin Hilderbrand

The story revolving around a upper class family set in 1969 and a summer spent like always at Nantucket. But this time around the flow and ebb of their lives have changed. Teddy the only son just called up for service in Vietnam, Blair the elder daughter pregnant with twins, coping as best as she could, independent Kirby on her own working as a cleaner and then as a receptionist elsewhere and the youngest, growing up not happy to be with her mother and grandmother and their rules and regulations. She senses things are definitely not what they seem, there are hidden currents even with her mother and grandmother and change is in the air. The story is a soothing one - despite the drama which besets them at every turn. It soothes because it is familiar and to the outside world they seem untouched by what is happening within. Mother has become almost an alcoholic, Blair is almost certain her husband is unfaithful, Kirby is trying to "find herself" and come to grips with racism and a boyfriend who is African American and Jessie at thirteen falling in love for the first time with no one to confide in and watching the conflicts at home. Interspersed with the family story of the Levins, is Chappaquidick and the repercussions there and the Moon Landing - both touching lives of people in this story. A very enjoyable read because it is a plausible story - it could happen to any family in similar circumstances and one is drawn into the drama as well as its ups and downs. I never could get hold of a book by this author and I am so glad I was able to at last. A book from Glen Waverley library in Melbourne.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

What Lies Beneath by J G Hetherton

Two timelines for a mystery murder story. Laura's friend's family, when they were both little girls, was murdered brutally. The friend was taken by relatives and that was the end of the relationship between the two girls. Fast forward twenty years and a girl's mangled corpse on the interstate after an accident leaves some strange clues behind. Her last call was to Laura but Laura cannot identify the corpse and detectives are skeptical that she has no idea why someone would be calling her just minutes before she died. The onlu clue is a photograph which includes her friend from twenty years ago with Laura and Laura's father as well. The story was a complicated one. Laura starts investigating the murder on her own, unravelling so many connections to her own family which leaves her nonplussed. Her mother is scathing in her attacks on the family. Added to the mix is a lifer in prison who is facing execution shortly, who also seems to have some insider knowledge of the old murder. There is some action but it is the descriptive writing that is good here. Small town southern inhabitants with a lot of prejudices, plenty of poverty, and trying to succeed. Eight year olds who were quite sensitive to what was happening in their homes, who knew how to keep secrets and when to just shut up. The review was not an easy one to write, though the book was entertaining Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Next of Kin by Joanne Trollope

This one is a bit darker than the rest of her books. Death, resultant grief, the myriad ways people handle grief and then the resultant period which follows intense grieving. A bit of an eye opener for me personally anyway. We have the opening scene with the death of Caro, someone who came from America twenty years ago and who never quite adapted to the vagaries of hard farm life and with her death releases a whole lot of intense emotion which seemed to have been bottled up within her family and extended family for decades. When her death is followed by the violent death of her brother in law - the reasons for his depression under estimated and unknown by his own family - everyone is not brought closer together which should be the case but rather further divided into their own little coccoons of not knowing what they should have done, what they did not do right and generally being more miserable than they were before. Every character was unique, every character we can read in people within our own family, the situations are similar and we wonder whether we would behave like this. The story gets you questioning oneself, ones ethics and morals and whether we are found wanting. A really profound novel. A book I picked up from a free library which was my first free library find!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Hidden in the Shadows by Imogen Matthews

A WWII story set in wartime Holland with the attendant horrors of the Nazis, the persecution of Jews, the courage of those who helped them escape and mainly the story of Wouter and Laura. The story is compelling, the horrors actual and the escape of Laura particularly descriptive and detailed. The efforts by normal civilians to help as many people escape - despite knowing what would happen if they were found out is almost unbelievable. Putting yourself at risk is one thing but putting your family and the entire village at risk is something else. The repercussions of being found out were horrible and still people continued to help others selflessly. Wartime 1944 Holland going into 1945 was not easy for anyone - food was very scarce, resources were limited and everyone was stretched to the limit. A story of endurance and courage. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Venetian Venture by Suzette A Hill

The time is 1954. Rosie Gilchrist works for a doddering Dr Stanley at the British Museum who has tasked her with finding a valuable book In Venice. Her boss has sent her on this wild goose chase with hardly any clues, no introductions as to where she could start and the only clue he gave was dubious. Rosie is simple and accepts people for what they are. In Venice she meets many people who surprise surprise are on the same venture - looking for the same book. Some are quite ruthles especially when it later transpires that there is a massive reward for someone finding this book with the curious addition of a Murano vase! both items have to be found and presented together to claim the prize. Rosie herself just wants to find the book and take it to the British Museum. Seems very simplistic in her needs. The characters are varied and strange and when the murder count builds up, it is obvious that the searchers mean business and no one should get in the way. The setting of Venice and the fact that it was quite descriptive added interest. As a cozy it was rather tame. Another book I picked up from the local Glen Waverley library.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Punishment she deserves by Elizabeth George

Like most of Elizabeth George's mystery murders the story starts slowly and then you begin to realize that the basis has been laid for what looks like a straight forward piece of detection but is anything but simple. When Detective Ardery and Sergeant Havers are called to follow a procedural mistake for someone who committed suicide in custody it seems an open and shut case. Havers is naturally a good detective and she finds anomalies in the local cops detection immediately. On top of it all Ardery cannot stand her, and is hoping with the connivance of the Chief Superintendent to tie Havers in knots and make it as difficult as possible so that she can rebel and then be transferred out of station or preferably sacked. They did not count on Havers tenacity and the loyalty Detective Lynley had for someone whom he counts on. This starts another investigation and the whole story starts unravelling - including teenagers unwittingly involved in an officers sexual antics protected by another senior officer in the local constabulary, families with complicated histories battling issues with their children, people all covering up for another some thinking that they are doing it for the good of a family or a friend but really not helping out at all. The setting of Ludlow where the entire story is set is described in detail. One gets an idea of how the entire area operates not just the town itself but all the surrounding areas and how they are all linked. This adds so much more interest to a story especially to people who are absolute outsiders to the United Kingdom. The story is detailed and convoluted but so painstakingly put together. The only trouble I had is that it was a chunkster and I found it so difficult to read in bed. Another excellent book from Glen Waverley library.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

City of Friends by Joanne Trollope

Four women in their forties, been friends for decades supportive of each other now find themselves at a cross roads. Each of them have faced obstacles in their careers, have overcome those and reached levels which are satisfying to all. Now each one is faced with personal obstacles which they must try to deal with, if they are going to have a future to live with happily. A few of the obstacles involve people from each other's families and this is where the questioning has to start. Does one sacrifice a friendship of decades for what could be a temporary dissent. Does one build bridges and discount minor quips. What is best for the greater good. I like the different aspects of each woman's life, the problems they individually face and how they try to circumvent and overcome them. As usual very good reading. A book I picked up from Glen Waverley library.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Death at the Dinner Party by Emma Davies

I am in cold and chilly Melbourne after the humidity and heat of Colombo - it is a treat. It may pall after two weeks though! Right now enjoying the companionship of children and grand children, and even visited Mount Waverley library where my heart soared at all the books I could see. I restricted myself to three - a Joanna Trollope, a Vaseen Khan and a Rhys Bowen. More of that to follow. Death at a dinner party was a good read. Francesca - is a reputed caterer and she is called upon to provide very upmarket catering for a weekend from breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between snacks to a discerning and arrogant crowd of people. Fran did not expect to find a dead body and when it was decided by the local constabulary that the death was a murder, her detective instincts kick in and she is on the case along with Adam who helped her in her first amateur detective round. The Officer in charge of the case knows how Adam and Fran work, and is keen for them not to get involved in the police procedures but is also keen to get their insights into what actually happened and behind the scenes goings on which are not always apparent to the police. The murder of a rich businessman in their own home with only a handful of associates present restricts the number of potential murderers but with everyone's alibi being ticked off it is not going to be an easy case to solve. A good cozy with plenty of suspects, lots of twists and turns and a lovely setting as well. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen (Her Royal Spyness No. 9)

Lady Georgina may be only 35th in line to the throne but she has never forgotton the importance of royal duties. Her loyalty is absolute and her personal opinions of royalty is kept quite separate from what she is expected to do. When called upon to guide the young Princess Marina before her marriage to Prince George, Georgiana undertakes the job with a feeling of relief that she at least for a month has a place to stay in. Her brother under the influence of his wife, does not welcome Georgiana home and she is presently without a residence in London. Kensington Palace is good enough for the time being. The history in the story is spot on because these were all events which actually took place, but in this story the murder of a former mistress of Prince George and the need to sweep it under the carpet may be an added story. Fortunately for all Bobo the girl who was murdered had no family to look out for her and the murder was very cleverly hidden by the man who was in charge of the Palace along with the Intelligence branch who needed the marriage to go ahead as they felt that the Princess may cancel the marriage if she really knew what her fiancee was upto. The story will have its critics because of its attitude towards gay men but then it could be that this was the feelings of the general public at the time and the story just reflects that. Unmarried mothers would have got the same rap and in this story there were two of them. It was just the way people looked at life. Not very nice but that is part of the story. Georgiana is someone who wants to do what is right, but she is not willing to step too much out of line - her loyalty is first to the royal family and she will protect it all costs. A good read descriptive of the times and the people who populated the story. A book I picked up from Glen Waverley library.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Lady with the Gun asks the questions - Kerry Greenwood

A collection of short stories, all involving Phyrne Fisher the sassy, society beauty of vintage Melbourne fame who through sheer intelligence and wonderful detective skills in very short time solves the most vexatious problem Seventeen short stories which I read of an evening as each one was better than the one that went before. Different settings, different people of different walks of life. Phyrne though rich and famous never looked down her nose on the poor or the downtrodden. These stories were so good I just loved the lot. Set in Melbourne of the 1920s in itself something unique, this feisty female character will be loved by any person who loves the detective genre. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The French for Murder (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Murder Book No. 10) by Verity Bright

This is pure vintage mystery detective work. A real Lady along with her butler whom she inherited from her late uncle, a bull dog Gladstone who is definitely part of the proceedings and her domestic staff, all loyal servants, proceed to France on a holiday. She wants quiet, and peace and a chance for her staff to have a good time. She did not envisage her butler Clifford finding a dead body in the cellar when he went rooting for wine! The discovery of the body ends with Clifford being taken into custody because the Mayor wants under any circumstance possible to keep the murder under wraps. He is looking at a long term political future and wants to be the person who brings prosperity to the village, by attracting many film directors to film in this area so that prospects for the locals will be enhanced. The story is convoluted, the suspects are many, the background histories are complicated and Lady Eleanor is in the midst of it all, charming the local Constabulary and Mayor on the one side purely with the hope of getting Clifford released. The story is very descriptive of the region, the hijinks which are involved when you've got famous Hollywood stars in the vicinity and the gossip is rife The language is fluent, the characters are just so and the story evolves. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. PS In case I havent said it I am in chilly Melbourne. After the heat and humidity of Sri Lanka, this is welcome though the freeze can be a bit too freezy! I've been to the local library twice now, delighting in the finds.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Murder at the Grand Raj Palace by Vaseem Khan

A book I picked up at Mount Waverley library - one where I hope to go to frequently and pick out as many books as I possibly can get hold of! A book of the Baby Ganesh series, we have Inspector Chopra - recently retired - set up his detective agency and highly respected by the Bombay detective force. When an American millionaire is found with a sabre in his chest, the local police turn to Inspector Chopra to find out what he could. The story has also another side story of a missing bride whose wedding is being hosted in the same hotel - this bride is a princess of a minor royalty and Inspector Chopra's wfe Poppy gets unwittingly drawn into that drama and that detective story. The death of the billionaire however is a complicated story - going back over thirty years to a small village and once Chopra gets his hands on the case, he is not letting go. His tenaciousness and clever detective skills go laboriously over every person who stood to lose (or gain) by the man's death and what he discovers is something that is going to make a lot of people unhappy including the government. Though not directly said, it has tones of the Bhopal disaster with the loss of hundreds of lives and though that was not hushed up, this story involves many people in a cover up and several murders happening before this particular one at the Hotel. Poppy's search for the missing bride involves an equally complicated course and that ends well. The bride is found, explanations are given and it is a happy ending. In our American billionaire's death everything is concluded and handed over to the authorities. Lighthearted with the addition of Baby Ganesha (the elephant) monkeys, a south indian film crea and many extras the murder detective part was fabulous and detailed.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Following in the footsteps of Jane Austen, we have Belle, Elianor, Marianne and Margaret following a modern saga with equally heart rending stories. Belle is being thrown out of her home forthwith by her nephew John and his domineering wife Fanny. A long lost cousin materializes and offers them a charming cottage. (I felt that their gratitude was very limited, for a family which was destitute). True the cottage was nowhere near the grandeur of their home at Norland, but a free home is not to be sneered at and Marianne and Margaret and their mother Belle were really lacking in the gratitude department. This was irritating but part of the general story. Belle throughout had a sense of entitlement which was totally unjustified, Marianne lived on another planet, Margaret was too young to understand the drastic changes facing them all at once and it was left to Elinor to deal with the practicalities of bills, transport and just how to survive. Marianne and her mother did not endear themselves to me but it was Elinor who had to hide her own heartache over her thwarted love for Edward and focus entirely on Marianne with her disastrous love affair with Willoughby and her tendency to fall ill at every turn. Marianne's dramatic outbursts were unbelievable and that no one found her over the top was also unimaginable. Her subsequent illness had to be tended to over everything else and everyone and everything took second place to that. That it all ends well for all of them was good. I especially liked Elinor getting a fair deal at the end. It had overtones of the 19th century in a very modern environment and this was slightly off. A re-read on my part but one I thoroughly enjoyed nevertheless.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Murder's a Swine by Nap Lombard

By 1940 the air raid shelters were being used quite a bit and a young air raid warden and Agnes a amateur sleuth discover a body hidden in one of the sandbags. No one can deduce anything other than murder and when at the same time many signs and threats appear with the intention of frightening residents with images of pigs heads, and stuff pig related all appear to confuse any detective trying to solve the two cases - present and past. It is a classic crime of a vintage era and the setting of WWII adds to the aura. Descriptive of the way of life during WWII plus the social mores of the times, this was an interesting and an enlightening read (apart from the mystery murder and finding out who the victim was). Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Ferret Files by Philip Legard

Ferret seems to be having it all but what he longs to do is follow his dream of becoming a paranormal investigator. I did not quite get it till much later in the story. Totally different to what I was expecting, it was a bit unreal. But it did draw you in and that is the part of it being a good book. I downloaded this book ages ago and am sorry it took me so long to get to it. I am now trying to clear up my shelves of books which I've had for a long time. Sent by Troubadour Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Peril at Pennington Manor by Tracy Gardner

I found the mix of an American background set on the Hudson river, aristocrats (unusual for America) and antique business people with a penchant for mysteries all put together in an intriguing story. The aristocrats are finally selling this manor (the one on the Hudson river) and they want all their antiques appraised and valued for sale. To their dismay Avery and her associates discover right at the beginning firstly that most of the more valuable pieces are fakes, and secondly that some are totally missing. Added to that when the housekeeper is murdered, followed by another murder, and the story gets out about the previous housekeeper also being murdered and the story not widely known and hushed up, Avery knows that trouble is afoot. The story with the backdrop of antiques and the procedures that one followed in appraising them is a good one. It added a depth and flavor to the story of murder and mystery and history of this particular family. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

William the Conqueror by John Wingate

The story of William is a interesting mixed tale. Born to unmarried parents he rose very high in the social hierachy though he was not popular with many. He and his wife Mathilde were very much in love which was a nice note in an era where marriage, especially amongst the upper classes was for convenience, connections and money. Bloodthirsty and brutal was the pointers for this age and survival and annexing lands and properties was the sole focus of many in order to hold on to power. Unpleasant but part of the era. It was a detailed read going back before the 11th century and gave you much information on who changed the face of England. Very good read for history buffs. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The House of Marvellous Books by Fiona Vigo Marshall

A story of a bookshop which sounded like it came out of the archives, a host of quirky characters and the' impossibility of maintaining and upkeeping the place with the lot in charge. There is a legendary book, which if found can save the library and its people, but it has been looked for for decades and never been found. However, the employees here (at least some of them) believe that it is around it is only a matter of following obscure clues and pouncing on the manuscript. Nice, quirky, eccentric characters who all developed as time went by, and humourously told this made for an entertaining read. Sent by Fairlight Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Fugitive Colours by Nancy Bilyeau

I wish I had got to the first book in the series but this was good as a stand alone too. The world of silk weavers, and finding a woman who had her own workshop and did designs in silk particularly the ones that Genevieve did was surprising and stunning. Flowers not just from Europe but the exotic ones from the Caribbean and India were her repertoire but she was held hostage by the fact that she was totally dependent on the house which ordered her designs. They had no hesitation in bargaining with her to the maximum Genevieve's husband a brilliant chemist and spy is now under a restraint from using his skills and is now a mere tutor to an Earl's son. Genevieve has to support and earn for herself and also for her young son as best as she could. When her past history of being a spy is being used against her in the form of blackmail, Genevieve has to use all her skills to keep afloat. Who is the enemy here and why is she being targeted is something she has to figure out and this takes quite a long time. An intense emotional read about a strong woman who is trying to protect her husband, protect her business and just survive in the cut throat world of design and politics doing a hard balancing act. A very good read. History involving the Hugenot struggle, the silk weavers, politics and a spy network makes for a very interesting book. Sent by Lume Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Lost Bones by Ruhi Choudhary (Detective Mackenzie No. 5)

I've read one in this series and it was a while ago so it was good to get to the gritty and courageous Mad Mack again. This time like before Mackenzie seems to be attracting personal attention of the worst kind. Murders are done in her name - by someone who says they do it to those who have hurt her, belittled her or been nasty to her but is causing a lot of flak in the department as well as to Mackenzie herself. She deplores the attention and only wants to be ignored and be part of the team - a position that she can hardly claim to when she seems to be singled out for such a lot of attention. The investigation is twisted, the clues are indistinct and difficult to read and the danger to Mackenzie herself becomes very real when the murderer starts escalating the violence. A page turner, with police procedurals in plenty this was a good one. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

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.