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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Ocean State by Stewart O"Nan

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

Saturday, March 26, 2022

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

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Front Page Murder by Joyce St. Anthony

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

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Lost Coast Literary by Ellie Alexander

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

Thursday, March 17, 2022

An Escape to Remember by T A Williams

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg

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

Sunday, March 13, 2022

One for Sorrow by Helen Fields

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

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Letter from Briarton Park by Sarah E Ladd

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

Monday, March 7, 2022

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

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

Friday, March 4, 2022

Bad Terms by Alex Walters

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Drowned Village by Norma Curtis

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