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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.