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Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Mask of Merrivale Manor by Pete Sherlock


It is the 1960s and Ben a boy of ten, now orphaned moves into his aunt and uncles home with two ready made cousins. At the beginning he is awkward with the comfort and opulence of his surroundings but then grows into it comfortably.

Fast forward a few years and human bones are discovered. The forensics will eventually identify the victim, but Ben knows at once who the victim was identified by him by the shoes. The French tutor brought in by his Aunt, also sacked without a seemingly apparent reason by his Aunt. She was last seen with his cousin who  supposedly dropped her at the station.

The Mask in the story seemed a bit out of place for me. Its seemingly supernatural powers attributed to the family did not quite gell with the rest of the story. The characters themselves were very good with the Aunt and Uncle indulgent, self satisfied that their position in the county would protect them from the law. When it did catch up with the Drummond family it was a surprise for them.

For Ben it became a choice of family versus others. Others included justice which was not served for the nanny and Benjamin was manipulated to the end.

The obvious suspect was very apparent from the beginning but the actual suspect was totally different.

Excellent reading with lots of twists and turns set with perfect characters to suit their respective roles.

Sent by Fairlight Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

A Vicious Machination by Lynn Messina


The setting is one I like. England at a crossroads but many people hardly able to survive. The aristocracy had it on a platter - money, freedom, laws and judiciary which would invariably rule in their favour.

The Duchess of Kesgrave Bea , recently wed, is an investigator of repute.  She is trying to reconcile the illegitimate half sister of her husband with the family, but finds herself in the middle of a drama. Miss Lark, the half sister was found at a murder scene weapon in hand by a Bow Street runner who just happened to be passing by. An open and shut case particularly since the victim and the suspect had terrible history between them.

Bea realises she is against a formidable enemy but she is resourceful and brave. Unraveling a plethora and a history of blackmail on the part of the victim leaves many, many suspects in line. Each has to be investigated but time is running out. 

Meticulous detection is the key and the Duke and Duchess work closely to see that justice is done. The story also highlights the appalling conditions in orphanages, and the abuses that children faced by the very people who were in charge of them.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Escape To The country Kitchen by Hannah Longdon

Three sisters coming together with the agenda of saving their family home. Juliet returning from London with an almost broken heart and the other two with relationship issues of their own. Their AuntSylvia with the French chef (handsome and clever) have come up with their own ideas of cookery weekends, cookery school and a cookbook to boost funds. Everyone is expected to chip in, in whatever way possible.

Romance is in the air and mishaps are on the way but it all ends well. A light hearted read with mouth watering food mentioned here and there.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 5, 2024

The Curious Secrets Of Yesterday by Namrata Patel


Between blogger and google photos at times, something happens and the image does not show. Ours not to reason why.

The story of three Indian origin women, all single, all dedicated to the art and more particularly the science of spices. The effective use of which can balance the ills of the body, help us mentally and generally be good to all. Tulsi the youngest woman is the only person who can carry this heritage forward, but she finds herself at a crossroads in her life. She doubts that she wants spices to be her sole focus in life, which is how it is for her mother and grandmother. She wants to broaden her life, find romance. Both older women are reticent in the extreme about partners and I found it strange that Tulsi brought up in Salem, never questioned who or from where her father was.

When secrets did come out, the trend of the story changed. Family dynamics changed drastically adding layers to what was a very closed family unit. Romance entered too but it was always secondary and did not change the thrust of the story. Family and secrets and how past influences the present. There was a social media hype which added a minor layer to the story.

Setting in Salem was unusual with the city’s history.

Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Find Me in California by Kerry Lonsdale


Two very close friends had a falling out. They end up in the same nursing home. One is almost at the end of her days and decides to summon her grandson to reveal her last secrets. Matt the grandson is bitter, distrustful of the grandmother who was forced to take him in but treated him horribly and does not want to go back. We have Julie who is the grand daughter of the other old woman, now with dementia, not knowing that Julie is her grand daughter who is in contrast devoted to her.

There are many strands in this story. Family secrets (which family hasn’t got them), a touch of magic which seemed out of place, dementia and the effect on families, romance and the problem of forgiveness and moving on. Sometimes the story got too complicated and intense and blurred as well. 

The book was sent to me by Lake Union Publishing courtesy of Netgalley 

The Basilica at Fátima, a journey I loved and am glad I was able to go.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Under Her Roof by A A Chaudhuri


This is the class thriller/whodunit. Almost to the end one is swinging between probable suspects and the theory of whys and wherefores.

Adriana a rich widow needs a tenant as she feels isolated and a bit more than frightened living in her palatial home in Hampstead. Her last tenant left under questionable circumstances- he jumped off her roof
Adriana now unnerved looks for a new tenant and finds Seb, opposite in character to Ethan, but with deep secrets of his own.

The lives of both Adriana and Seb are complicated. Their pasts are even more dark and very abusive family behind them. Those child time histories are carried into adulthood and we read about them in stories related throughout the book. It has prevented them from developing fully as adults and with Adriana, a skillfully hidden disassociative disorder. Between the chapters the body count builds up and the murderer is elusive, until the final renunciation.

Keeping the reader involved and on the ball, this story evolves fast. Even with going back decades and then reverting to present times.

Sent from Hera for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Photo from my short sojourn in Portugal.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

A Gamble at Sunset by Vanessa Riley

Going with the  Bridgerton theme we are dealing with people of colour. A family business thriving and a rich family driven into the ground by a son in laws gambling, and the attempts of the eldest daughter to turn it around. Opening the story with the death bed scene of said son in law, we have his friend, also of mixed ancestry come to the family’s aid.

Taking the Wilcox sisters under his wing, the Duke of Torrance did not know what he was getting into.four ladies all determined, independent and knowing what they want. Katherine the eldest hating the Dukes help, at the same time the feelings she has for him, not diminished but she suppressing them. Then Georgina pushed into a farcical engagement having been caught in a kiss and Lydia the baby of the group, having caught the heart of the Duke who sees in the little girl the sister he lost.

The story revolves around Georgina and Katherine mainly, how they navigate British society with their background of being people of colour, the prejudices they face and how they overcome them.  Very brave women here.

Interesting take from a very different angle of a romance of the times.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Real Life and Otger Fictions by Susan Coll


Cassie is in her 50s and is very confused. She has had upheavals being orphaned at two, taken in by a very kind aunt and uncle, who never wanted to give any information as to the whys and wherefore s of her parents deaths because many things were painstakingly curious. Her husband is indifferent, has found someone and is quite alright that she just walked out with only the puppy for company.  

Tracing the path her parents took seems the way to go to find answers seems the way out for Cassie and this is what she sets out to do.

There are events here which are real life stories and this was the substance of the story. It was a bit of a dark read for me. It dealt with a generation who did not want to discuss openly subjects which were unpleasant, just pretend they did not exist. Such a common thing in the past.

Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Murder on the French Riviera by Helena Dixon


Kitty and Matt have been given a fairly straightforward assignment. Papers will be delivered, just bring them back. A paid holiday on the French Riviera, sunny weather, the beach, a lovely hotel. It seemed idyllic.

They were warned they were on their own, adversaries were unknown, but both seasoned hands knew that adversaries there will be. Finding the person supposed to give them the documents was hard, because they stumbled on his corpse before any contact could be made. The second murder of a photo journalist was alarming because they were first on both scenes which raised eyebrows with all. 

The enemy could be the German ambassador and his charming wife, the rich American widow and her daughter, the impoverished English Lord pursuing said daughter or the suave Comte.

Escaping their opponents who had not revealed themselves was tricky, and Matt and Kitty thought they had put the worst behind them, when they got on the train but this was where the real danger and action happened.

Very nicely narrated, perfectly in tune with the time of 1936 very good reading.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Art of Murder by Fiona Walker


Inkbury is quaint, idyllic almost till you look beyond and see the usual human elements which are hidden at most times. Perfect setting for a cozy mystery.

Juno returns home, hoping for a new start in life. Larger than life and eternally optimistic that something better and importantly someone more interesting will turn up, she is taken aback at developments amongst friends and family. Phoebe is striving to write a best seller - a murder mystery to save her family from bankruptcy, her mother has found a flamboyant lover and to Juno’s suspicious mind, hell bent on doing away with her mother (three previous wives have died in sudden circumstances) and the sudden death by drowning in a shallow patch of the river of her friend Si, sends Juno into full detective mode drawing in her friend Phoebe and the local publican.

Suspicions fall on several (all wrong) people and our detectives are set on finding out who murdered Si before he strikes again. Between the stand up comedian Juno, the ‘cancelled’ and financially strained Phoebe and Mal the publican trying to keep his pub from going under the story is cheeky and full of disarming humour.

Sent by Boldwood Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

A Season at the Cliff Hiuse by Brooke L. Davis


1907 two young women with ambition to do something with their lives. Both thwarted by family who have no intention of sending their daughters to college. Both do not have any money of their own and both are not actively looking for a partner though one of them - Grace Hamilton has a secret fiancée who has followed her to San Francisco, and in hindsight Grace realizes he is definitely not marriage material but does not see a way out. 

Isabella wants to be a nurse but finds that her chances grow slimmer by the day. Her mother’s illness, steadily worsening and her sister Josephine’s marital problems leading to a divorce seems to take away all chances of breaking free.

The story is a commentary on society of the time, and the expectations that family wished for. It showed women’s total dependence on their guardians of the time who curtailed any independence by controlling the pursestrings.

Both girls achieved their dreams, one by very drastic methods and one in a more straightforward way.

Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Her Dying Secret by Lisa Regan (Detective Josie Quinn Book 20)

I have been not very successful in tracking this author down. The few I’ve read are intense, this one too.

A routine traffic accident one woman dead, the other concussed with memory loss. The dead woman has been literally starved to death. She clutches in her hand a piece of paper with a child’s drawing with the word HELP. The driver of the car says she doesn’t know the woman, and how she got to be a passenger in the car. Nothing adds up and Detectives have to hold back till the driver recovers to talk and they to reconstruct the story and find the child before its too late.

The detective story and the careful unraveling of the mystery is just one aspect. The other is the work life balance of Detective Josie and the antagonism faced at work and how to deal with it. The book is a page turner and did not disappoint.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A New Doctor at Orchard Cottage Hospital by Lizzie Lane


Dr Frances Brakespeare was unusual for her times. Lady Doctors were few and hard to find and those that did practice were relegated to a second hand position, denied even their marks and spoken to in a very derogatory manner by their male companions. Frances had been adopted at birth and had a very loved existence until her adopted mother passed away.

Her confrontation with a fellow doctor along with the death of Izzie forced her to look elsewhere for a job and she was lucky to find a niche in a rural cottage hospital, where the people supported her but her male colleague along with many of his counterparts tried to undermine her. 

Frances had served in the Great War and lost her love, so she was greatly surprised to find his name carved in the village memorial. That was a mystery she had to unravel.

The story had many strands including the hardship that working women faced, not just from males but also from their own. It seemed right for them to take on all jobs when the men were at war, but were expected to hand over when they returned. No one thought that many of the women were widows, or had men returning with mental or physical disabilities, many which prevented them working and in the case of mental handicaps not even recognized widely or treated. 

Frances was one of the brave ones and this story is testament to that.

Sent by Boldwood Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Castleton Affair by Benedict Brown


Fell in love with the cover. Marius and Bella get involved again in an investigation which has tones of espionage, which turns into a murder enquiry. Marius is the plodder and Bella seems the sharper mind and they make a good team, despite the hovering fiancée Baines in the background. (Never got the necessity for him but that is not relevant here)

This is simply told, a good storyline and the main characters remaining true to their original casting.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Death in the crypt (A Cressida Fawcett mystery) by Fliss Chester


I’m reading the 1920s vintage era rather a lot and this is a classic example.
There is always an Hon. involved and in this case it’s the Honorable Lady Cressida, amateur sleuth and not one to take things at face value.

On what was supposed to be a quiet holiday, she comes across a body in a crypt and standing over the body her Aunts maid Nancy with a heft bloodied candlestick in her hand. For the local detectives, it’s an open and shut case. Lady Cressida is inclined to think otherwise and the pursuit of village gossip, reluctant clergy, local folklore and a vanishing friar are all clues that have to be pursued to uncover the real murderer.

Typical rural English setting with stalwart and standard characters featuring in the story, this was a lovely read.

Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Murder at Ravens Edge by Louise Marley


Milla returns home after eighteen years to a rather strained welcome. Milla has lived by her wits, is a compulsive liar, will not pay for anything if she can help it and trusts no one.

A body of a girl dressed in vintage Dior eerily similar to Milla’s own mother’s death which was never solved, the incriminating part is that Milla’s handbag is found by the body. Ben Taylor is the local detective and though the evidence points strongly towards Milla, the timeline doesn’t.

A very compelling read involving murders, plus family history going back decades and deeply divided brothers - one who wouldn’t find it difficult to kill his own, after having killed before is a disturbing read but a page turner. The attraction between Ben and Milla is immediate and dangerous to them both, though that is not going to stop either of them.

Milla’s character is complex and everyone else plays strong roles in the story as well.

Excellent mystery murder.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.



Was in Portugal on a short tour covering most of the important landmarks, including Fátima. 

Just returned home and will be visiting the blogs.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Highcliffe House by Megan Walker


Anna Lane was a tiny bit autocratic. Born to wealth, the only child of a widowed father she had everything she wanted. Except genuine love from a partner. Having found out the hard way that her suitor was only interested in her wealth and was in fact engaged to another, Anna wanted to escape from London, and the gossip.

Graham Everett was of humble beginnings. Anna’s father was his mentor and guide and Anna hated it that her father gave time and energy to listen to Graham and to guide him. When the offer of going to stay with the Everett family in their modest home in Brighton came up, both Anna and Graham were not happy. Graham’s plans for a huge investment in the Brighton property market became wholly dependent on Anna’s recommendations to her father. Graham knew the situation looked bleak. 

Moving to Brighton, the Everett family warmly welcomed Anna and Graham started showing her the best aspects of Brighton. Slowly Anna and Graham both discovered not antipathy but warmer feelings for each other.

The story depicted in both London and Brighton of 1816 was descriptive and provided a background for this family/love story.

Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Murder at Ravenswood House by Louise Marley


Set in a very Gothic atmosphere, we have Lorcan the very epitome of gothic, we have Ben Taylor the local Detective and we have Milla - girl friend of one, ex girl friend of the other , also not telling current boy friend about the ex. 

Steeped in feuds, murderous thieving history in the Elliot family of which Ben and Lorcan both belong means that they can never live down their father’s sins. That was the complicated background.

When a headless corpse is found, and when Lorcan is found all bloodied over a gravestone, he is arrested immediately. When the powers that be discover that the body was robbed from a mortuary so too the blood, detectives know they have someone vengeful on their hands. The tension keeps building up with attempted murders, appearances of a faceless highwaymen and a second murder.

No clues, Milla playing a dangerous and a childish game of concealment with the detectives doing their best to keep panic at bay.

Story was fast paced, characters were good and it was a page turner.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The Contrivance by Asher Lewis Stam


Set in two contrasting periods 18th century Scotland and slightly futuristic now this was an intriguing read.

A well laid out story and characters were varied. It also led the reader to ask many questions and ponder on what the individual would do in similar circumstances.

Sent byBooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

My apologies for the very late review.

A Vicious Machination by Lynn Messina


The setting is one I like. England at a crossroads but many people hardly able to survive. The aristocracy had it on a platter - money, freedom, laws and judiciary which would invariably rule in their favour.

The Duchess of Kesgrave Bea , recently wed, is an investigator of repute.  She is trying to reconcile the illegitimate half sister of her husband with the family, but finds herself in the middle of a drama. Miss Lark, the half sister was found at a murder scene weapon in hand by a Bow Street runner who just happened to be passing by. An open and shut case particularly since the victim and the suspect had terrible history between them.

Bea realises she is against a formidable enemy but she is resourceful and brave. Unraveling a plethora and a history of blackmail on the part of the victim leaves many, many suspects in line. Each has to be investigated but time is running out. 

Meticulous detection is the key and the Duke and Duchess work closely to see that justice is done. The story also highlights the appalling conditions in orphanages, and the abuses that children faced by the very people who were in charge of them.

Sent by Book Whisperor for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Strange ways to Oldham by Andrea Frazer


Lady Amanda and Hugo C C C (the name is far too long ) are two elderly eccentric humans, with all their wits about them but a bit misplaced in the current times they live in.

Accidentally discovering that their friend Reggie was actually murdered, Lady Amanda is incensed that the local police Inspector dismisses her theory as being that of a batty lady. Undeterred they pursue their investigation, uncovering fictitious nephews who have swindled and got rid of older people who are too ill to prevent getting maneuvered.

The story is humorous and lots of comedy with the background of not just money but common sense and a feeling that justice must prevail.

The book was a free download from Amazon but sadly I cannot post a review there, as they do not permit me to do so (since I have not purchased stuff from Amazon).

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Smoke and Mirrors by M E Hilliard



Greer Hogan is a librarian. She is also an amateur sleuth. She is also troubled that her husband was murdered and there is no progress in the investigation and saddened by the fact that he wanted to tell her what his suspicions were, which got him killed, but never had the chance.

Another death in the same company put Greer on guard, and when another person from the same company approached her, after following her for days, with information which he felt was dangerous (and who got murdered within hours), Greer knew she was on track to find out who the killers were. 
All she had was a few sheets of random figures, a lot of conjecture, and the support of Grim a colleague whose specialty is magic and who is very willing and capable of helping her in her quest for justice.

The story included libraries being catalogued .(always interesting) and especially since the subject was magic. It added a completely different lift to the story.

Tense, and a page turner. Emotional as well. 

Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Mayfair Dagger by Ava January

London 1894. It was not a good place for a single woman with a guardian who was self centered and whom she loathed.

Albertine came to London with the idea of earning her living as a female detective but realised very early on that without a man as a front her efforts were doomed. Her first foray, very successful getting back letters ended when the Lady just ignored Albertine after getting them into her own hands. 

To her dismay the gentleman whom she took the letters from was found dead the next morning and Albertine is the chief suspect.

Enter Duke Erleigh actually investigating the death of Lord Grendel and trying to get to the bottom of the story and also trying to trace Albertine’s non existent husband, do things get complicated, interesting and a touch romantic.

The classic female investigator of 19th century England is a little more savvy than Albertine and this was the negative factor in the story. Setting of contemporary London at the time spot on.

Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ash Dark as Night by Gary Phillips


Harry is a good photographer and he is in the eye of the storm in 1965 downtown Chicago in the maelstrom of riots. He gets good photographs of police brutality very clear and concise, and then finds himself at odds with the local police force.

When recuperating he is approached to track down Tolbert which in turn takes Harry down the road of bank corruption, wheeling and dealing and robberies. All the while being in the crosshairs of LAPD intelligence.

Very reminiscent of current events and riots in cities across the world, with no sign of abating. Is this a sign of the breakdown of justice,  fairplay all around? 

The first half of the story is fast paced, the second part less so.

Sent by Soho Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Wild Lavender Bookshop by Jodi Thomas


The story focuses on two sets of people. Noah retiring and shy owner of the bookshop and Cora Lee a primary school teacher, under the domineering elder sister and an elusive father Bear. We have Delane come on a flying visit to find out anything about her missing father, and the three siblings she never knew about. Delane is in hiding because she has a bounty on her head so she needs to be anonymous in a place she is not known.

Delane and Noah were not looking for love or romance. It found them in subtle ways, creeping up on them. With the gunfight that went around, all ended well.

A light read.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Canal Murders by J R Ellis


The setting was Yorkshire and it was so descriptive it was so good . The area was brought to life and then the specific was life on the canals, a narrow boat and the community that has sprung around the canals.

A small group of has been folk singers now live in these narrowboats. Their lives have inter twined for decades and despite differences and arguments they’ve lived on. When Annie’s body was discovered on her boat by Andy and Steph, both detectives on holiday, they draw in the big guns for a spot of detection.

The story meanders like the waterways, in many directions with many, many suspects, all who have strong motives to see Annie dead. When a local nosey Parker is found murdered, detectives know they are closing in but on who is the question.

Surprising end which I didn’t see coming, good read all around.

Sent by Thomas and Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

A Duke of One’s Own by Emma Orchard


1816 England. Debutantes, Almack vouchers, balls, endless picnics and outings, shopping and tiresome journeys. This was the world of the rich and very similar to a Georgette Heyer novel. It is lovely reading of times past with wily, matchmaking mamas and very few thinking of the masses whose lives were far, far different. The similarity in this story ends there.

Racy, sexual encounters explicitly detailed in the midst of a story of a rebellious young lady who despite the rules and restrictions of her day, managed to break free to create a story of her own. 

Could have done with a little less detail but this is a one off and a break from my usual genres! 

Sent by BoldwoodBooks for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, May 10, 2024

The Murder Club by Sam Baron


Once I turned a couple of pages couldn’t put it down.

Susan Parker is down to earth FBI but with a high profile history which follows her around. Finding a millionaire strangled is one thing, but finding eight cases of strangled single mothers, ignored by the local detectives is another. Finding similarities and weaving the strands together brings Susan closer to uncovering the killer and exposing herself and her little family to an audacious killer.

The modus operandi of the killer was slick and meticulously planned. Susan was up against a rich cartel of businessman who didn’t want their hobby of watching and tracking a serial killer do his job, go public. They threw everything at Susan to get her to stop investigating The Millionaires Club, intimidating her and even throwing her into jail. Nothing could stop her.

This was a murder/thriller of the highest quality. The writing was inviting, but matter of fact. 
Loved it. 

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Death in the Details by Katie Tietjen

Maple Bishop is trying very hard to deal with the loss of her husband Bill. It is post WWII and she now finds herself penniless, going to lose her home and lifestyle. She turns to her craft, the one she is good at - miniature dollhouses, till she discovers a dead body when she goes to deliver her first order.

Being the first on the scene she notices discrepancies in the way the body was hanging and though the doctor and sheriff both want to wrap it up as a suicide,  Maple has her doubts right from the start and is frustrated when her efforts to start an investigation are stalled. The sheriff does not want his upcoming retirement disturbed and the doctor, who is an old hand is in Maples opinion a very straight and honest man.

When she gets the support of the youngest recruit in the sheriffs office on her side, Maple starts a quiet investigation of her own, disrupting the life of several of its citizens and creating a furor wherever she goes. Undeterred Maple continues, bringing down corrupt government officials, baring a sugar racketeering scam and setting right many things including getting justice.

A rather vintage crime classic. Very pleasant reading.

Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Royal Librarian by Daisy Wood

Tried copying the cover and didn’t work. Pity as it described the story pretty well.

We start in Austria just before Hitler took over. The family was an industrious hard working one. Father of Jewish origin working in the National Library and his wife a talented baker. Two little girls. On Hanna’s birthday the nightmare began with their father being beaten to death before their eyes, and their mother taken away never to be seen again.  Sophie is now in charge of Hanna with no place to go and no adult to guide them.

The story is long and complicated. Hanna ends up in America with a foster family who love her dearly. Sophie ends up as the Royal Librarian at Windsor. The story moves then to Hanna’s family in America who discovers their grandmothers roots - that she was born in Vienna, and that she has a sister. Gubby as she is affectionately known has never disclosed any of this. Confronted by her place of birth she explains to Lacey her grand daughter the broad outline of what she remembers leaving lot of detail out. Lacey takes it on herself to pursue looking for the grand aunt they never knew existed and uncovers the exciting and very unusual story of Sophie Klein.

Spanning Europe and America, in different eras with a different culture in each this family saga is a wonderful read. It covers history in great detail especially the time of Chamberlain followed by Churchill, the turbulent Royal history of the time with the abdication of Edward and the glamour and power that Wallis Simpson wielded.

Sent by Avon Books U K for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Escape to the Rome Apartment by Kerry Fisher


I’ve read a previous book by the author and the story of Beth and Ronnie and Marina, so it was like coming home. I am green with envy over those who have “strong passports” and thus fly to wherever they want to go, do their thing, stay months in beautiful locations and enjoy to the full joie de viere.

This story captivates. Sara in a loveless marriage 57 years old uses a legacy to dispose the ashes of her bestest friend Lainey. Sara after a lifetime of giving in to the wishes of an over riding husband, and twin sons who want her to be general dogsbody, finds it very hard to think of herself first.

Finding love was an unexpected bonus, but finding friends and an independent path for herself was even better.

The beautifully detailed descriptions of Rome, Florence and the in between places, alongside the myriad nooks and crannies off the beaten track added so much more.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley this was a five star rating for me.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The British Booksellers by Kristy Cambron


Amos Darby is a farmer and Charlotte is the Lady of the manor. Though deeply in love Amos knew it was not meant to be. Charlotte married well but WWI put paid to any happily ever after. Amos returned scarred, withdrawn and isolated. Charlotte had her hands full with a young daughter, her declining      estate, with no funds or hands to work the soil and her bookshop Eden Books.

For such a small village there was another bookshop owned by Amos. Though civil to each other the two kept far apart until the war burst over Coventry with a barrage of bombs and destruction. Putting both forces together seemed a good alternative and Amos proved to be the one Charlotte could trust implicitly. Her hiding four spitfire planes on the estate was not even known to her daughter and the protection of these valuable assets was a big responsibility.

The arrival of a young hot shot lawyer with his claims on the estate added more burdens for Charlotte and Eden who were determined to hang on to the legacy left to them. It didn’t help that the lawyer was of German descent and that Eden and Cole were attracted to each other.

Twenty five years on the attraction between the older couple was deep seated and it took only one upheaval to start again, much to the chagrin of young Eden and the resounding support of everyone else.

The story is one of struggle and survival, fighting against the enemy which destroyed the greater part of this area. The sacrifices made by the common man was immense and seemed to be borne with much bravery. The love stories interwoven added so much depth to the read.

Sent by ThomasNelson FICTION for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

A Body at the Dance Hall by Marty Wingate


1922 Mabel Channing can no longer be called an amateur sleuth. Helping Inspector Tollerton on the sidelines, unofficially of course (very few women on the force), Mabel’s newest assignment is to be a chaperone of sorts to an American teenager who is initially totally against the idea.

When on their initial foray to a dance hall ends with a murder, and someone who by all accounts was employed by her father, the story gets a bit complicated. If Roxanne is in danger, why isn’t the reason for it being put out. As the enquiry continues, there seems to be many suspects especially when Roxanne is abducted. Her father is a prime suspect, followed by her mother but no one can get to the bottom of the story as to why.

Many characters include the present Mrs Arkwright, the first Mrs Arkwright, a hidden second marriage, a hidden son, very nice helpful neighbours and a beau on the sidelines.

Charmingly told, despite the mayhem a classic vintage mystery murder.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

The Sinhalese and Hindu New year celebrations are over now. One of the biggest celebrations there is with families reuniting, especially possible because there were five days holidays.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Long Time Dead by T M Payne


This was a cracker of a story.

Detective Sheridan Holler has personal demons of her own. At thirteen, her younger brother was murdered and the killer was never found. This was the reason she joined the police. Now a decayed corpse found in a cemetery goes back to a cop killer and the case is opened up once again.

The twists and turns of the enquiry are unimaginable. Every person linked to the case has history and secrets, hidden agendas and much more. You couldn’t put this book down until it was done. Even at the end when suspects were sentenced, and where one felt one had been taken aback enough, a final surprise was revealed from the most innocuous of characters. 

I don’t to spoil the surprise factor here but if one does like mystery murders, and police detective stories this is a must.

Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

I’m having problems once again with images being posted. It seems to be very random.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A Letter from Italy by Rose Alexander


The story crossing two countries, several decades apart is an emotional one. A young couple divided by war and promises made.

Set in Yorkshire at a camp housing Italian prisoners of war, was where Betty first set eyes on Gianni. Fast forward to Betty being signed up for the war effort and her prowess in Morse, making her an ideal candidate for being a cipher. Her meeting up with Gianni again in Sicily was pure fate. Fast forward to 1972 and Sadie trying to recover from the loss of her parents and suddenly discovering she is adopted.

Even for 1972 Sadie seems very sheltered and her trying to go back step by step to discover her roots seemed to have been an ordeal. Starting off in Yorkshire then going back tracing her father from a memento with just his initials was a massive undertaking. Meeting several helpful souls on the way helped and the story of her parents love affair, Betty’s role in the war, Giannis life post the war all add up to a family saga very well told.

Weaving many strands into the story, encompassing many characters this was an excellent read.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Secrets of a Scottish Isle by

The year 1927 and Jane’s assignment is to an isolated island off the coast of Scotland. She was set to investigate discreetly and ferret the secrets of a cult led by the arrogant Livingstone. Getting there was not the issue, but questioning the followers when her own knowledge of the cult was scant, was going to be tough.

Jane did not do her homework and holes appeared at every stage of her stay. When Netta’s body was discovered naked and with scratch marks all over, the mystery deepened. The fact that a group that had split from the main group was on an adjoining island, added to the suspect list. Another body being discovered hastened the enquirer with suspects galore. With Redvers her fiancée on the island, Jane was sure to track the murderer down.

The setting of the story was fabulous. Lonely, wind swept, few inhabitants, tightly knit community. Jane came across as rather careless but that was part of the story.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

On another note I don’t seem to be able to post any images.

Friday, April 19, 2024

An Inconvenient Letter by Julie Wright


Marietta aka Etta has felt second best in her mother’s eyes. Scorned, criticized and looked over she has learnt to lie low and seeks the love she misses from her father. Her sister Anne has returned from her debutante season with a disastrous scenario surrounding her. It is now Etta’s turn but her mother decides that only Anne will go once again to London without Etta.

Etta has been in love with Frederick Finch for ages and has written passionate love letters to him (all unposted) albeit she thinks safely in her bureau drawer until the unthinkable happens and one gets posted.

Gerard lives in close proximity to Frederick and when the letters fall into his hands, he persuades Etta to help him woo her sister Anne, because the only way out for him is to find himself a very rich wife.
Etta agrees to this scheme only to get thwarted when she finds herself attracted to Gerard and realizes that Frederick is a cad!

Scandal, blackmail, genteel poverty, London and a debutant season all feature in the story.

Light hearted romance.

Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.