My Blog List

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Hurtwood Village Murders by Benedict Brown


Second book I’m reading by this author. Set in I presume a quintessentially English village, complete with the characters including the eccentric. Here we have unusually the Heaton family detested universally, and although the main culprits are dead and gone, the animosity remains hidden but very much below the surface.

Marius our prize winning author and his sort of girlfriend the lovely Lady Isabella gets dragged into an investigation of threatening poison pen letters to three of the Heaton remaining clan. Death promised in no uncertain terms assured. Police are called in but the first murder of James happens anyway and then the second of Tilly. Scotland Yard gets roped in and no proper suspect is in place because there are a lot of red herrings. 

The detection is slow, but charming. Characterisation was varied, also charming. 

A sequel has to follow because I want to know where the romance is going. It’s not quite fair to leave the reader dangling!

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

Where I’ve spent the last week. It’s a cooler part of this tropical island called Rozella. Turnips and beans growing in this greenhouse.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

The word Unsinkable immediately conjures the Titanic but I realised to my surprise that there were many ships, huge ocean vessels which suffered the same fate.

Violet Jessop’s life was hard, but never humdrum. From being a ship survivor not once, not twice but thrice, you’d wonder why she went back to the same job. Stewarding on ships brought in plenty of money and she was the breadwinner for a family of five siblings and her mother when her father died. Family first was her motto from the beginning to the end and she sacrificed her dreams of a medical career and a love, till everyone was taken care of.

Parallel to this story is the one of Daphne Katherine. A girl who did not know her place in society, who never knew a family warmth, and who joined the French Resistance first as a way to get recognition from her father and then later on toget revenge from the Nazis and their treatment of Jews.

The stories of both linked by birth unknown to each other, told in alternating chapters was an emotional one. WWI Nazis and Hitler are stories that will not get old or stale, as each one is different. Violets story of endurance, hardship and getting on with life against immense odds is also one worth reading about

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Artist’s Apprentice by Clare Flynn Book 1

I read the two books almost one after the other because they were good.

1908 and rich English-girls are still expected to do the right thing. Follow their parents instructions, I wouldn’t call it guidance here, and marry into the correct family. Alice seems pliant but she rebelled. The story continues with Edmund the spurred suitor marrying someone else,  Edmund’s father taking on a protege, and cutting Edmund off. At the same time Alice finds employment in. Stained glass business with the spurned Edmund of all people.

Working and living with a married man is beyond the understanding or acceptance of most people at the time, and Alice seems to be isolated not just from her family but also from friends. Alice and Edmund have also got to face the prospect of a looming war.

History especially the social mores of the time, along with a typical rich family saga where what everyone thinks and says is very important, this was indeed a good illustration of the times.

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

The Artist’s Wife by Clare Flynn


Alice Dalton and Edmund Culter are a partnership both professionally and personally. It has come at grave cost though. The year 1914 brings upheaval in England with the onset of war and Edmunds father Herbert has taken his hatred of his son further by promoting a marriage of Edmunds wife Dora with Alice brother who is now Herbert’s protégée in business and his heir.

The story although mainly of Alice and Edmund their deep love for each other, despite many obstacles is only a part of the story. Herbert Cutler is Machiavellian in his dealings - he wants to cut Edmund from his inheritance, then to get his grand daughter adopted legally by Victor Dalton and then get a seat in Parliament.

He never took into account the vagaries of the heart because he did not have an iota of empathy for people. Herbert got thwarted at every turn. He never dreamt that being the industrialist he was that he will not get nominated to any constituency. He never thought Victor will throw away a massive inheritance and enlist, and he did not realise that his son was not bothered by money or inheritance. He did not take into account personalities and feelings of the heart.

His downfall, leading to stability for Alice and Edmund and the beginning of a new life for all involved after many tragic events is this story. 

The setting, the period in which the story is set and the classes in English society, so rigid at the time very descriptively detailed. There are details of the suffragette struggles, the beginning of the white feather movement adding further dimensions to the story.

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

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Girl on the Boat by Kate Hewitt


The persecution of the Jews in Germany was bad enough but even on the boat taking them away from Germany, Sophie and her friends faced taunts. Hoping to reach the safe haven of Cuba, with visas in hand, their hopes were dashed. It was only Sophie who managed to escape with a group of six and go to Washington and make a life for herself there.

The other three girls got dispersed through Belgium, France and England in their search for a permanent home. The promise they made to each other to meet on a particular day was one they all intended to keep, despite whatever was thrown at them.

In this story (I presume sequels will follow) we see Sophie’s life from the time she landed at the Tyler’s mansion to her unceremoniously being kicked out, to the life she found for herself, her love and then the tragic loss followed by a surprising change in career.

Like all WWII stories, each story is unique, heart breaking and precious. This was no exception.

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

Friday, February 16, 2024

Death at St Jude’s by Mary Grand


Set on the Isle of Wight the setting alone is atmospheric. It wasn’t remote or inaccessible but it had its charm. Susan has just moved there. After a divorce and three years down the line, she is trying very hard to get back to a single life. With her two dogs by her side, good neighbours and interacting with local church activities draws her into a good social circle.

When Lawrence is found dead, fallen from a tower suspicions mount especially as it followed an acrimonious committee meeting in the church. So much does not seem right to Susan, but the local police and the village want to go with the accidental death verdict. Susan follows her own detection, she knows she is ruffling feathers when her house is egged and then had graffiti written on it. Those who were her friends are annoyed that she is investigating, when the Police have stopped.

The entire cast of characters had stuff to hide and not wanting it to be aired in public, and they’d go to extreme measures to keep them secret. One by one from the Deputy Head of the school, to the vicar and his wife, junior teachers and the music director have secrets unveiled. The final outcome was a surprise though.

Good, classic detection skills.

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Where Butterflies Wander by Suzanne Redfearn


This was excellent reading but a difficult book to review.

It had the human elements of sorrow, joy, anger, love and grief all represented throughout the story. There was remorse in plenty, forgiveness too and it ended neatly.

Starting with a child’s tragic death, a family without cleaving together seems to drift apart in their own little worlds of sorrows and what ifs. Coming in summer to a vast property they owned should have been good to rest and recuperate. It turned into a maelstrom of division. A resident Davina living on the edge of the property, a herbalist and a healer was the catalyst for Mum Marie and son Brendon. For the father and the two girls she spelt peace and understanding of their sorrows. Father Leo was actually torn between several worlds - his wife, very importantly his son whom he did not understand or respect and his daughters whom he adored.

The story of this torn family, the way the wife and son witch hunted Davina the herbalist and their remorse at the end, the reconciliation of the whole family and the beginning of their healing after Bee’s death was the crux of the story.

Very down to earth writing, emotional and heart wrenching in turn.

Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review. Courtesy of Netgalley.

The Body on the Beach by Laura Martin


This was a mystery murder which portrayed Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra as the sleuths in this beautiful setting of Lyme Regis. The Austens are on holiday and Jane discovers the body of a young woman on the beach. The girl has been strangled and the signs including bruising are very apparent. What becomes surprising is that the coroner and magistrate almost immediately give a verdict of accidental death and send the body home in a sealed coffin.

Jane is furious at this careless attitude and realises that they are covering up. It especially becomes important because over the last two years two other young girls have been discovered dead under shady circumstances. Further enquiry going back years uncovers another two unaccounted deaths.

Trying as outsiders and as women to uncover the truth is no easy task. They are blocked at every turn especially as the enquiry turns on the local aristocrats. However, the final outcome is very surprising and added to the tension in the story.

Despite it being a murder mystery the entire tone of writing was soothing. Talk about being contradictory.

Sent by Sapere books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Lady at the Lodge by Graham Ley


Set during the time of the French Revolution with the threat of the French invading Britain, the story on the British side set in a regency era shows the struggles of the abolitionist movement on the one side, and the personal danger two young women put themselves into unwittingly.

With all the unrest, the Wentworth family get on with their lives . Like everyone else life goes on. Sempronie part of an aristocratic Breton English family tries to settle past wrongs. She cannot envisage how the family can react. Having to face many challenges all the characters in this story try to move forward, despite outside events forcing them out of their comfort zones. Whilst Amelia is getting involved with the abolitionist movement and is supportive, we have Arabella abducted and being put in a perilous and compromising situation.

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

I found the story a bit complicated to follow, with complicated beginnings and ends.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Castle Abductions by David Field


Set in Tudor times, the story set in an English rural town has far reaching consequences, even reaching the ears of Queen Elizabeth, through a series of adventures and misadventures, omissions and commissions of both justice and injustice.

Bailiff Mountsorrel and his friend also a bailiff are sent on a wild goose chase trying to catch a poacher of deer from the local manor. Furious at being made to look a fool in the eyes of the local gentry, he is determined to get to the bottom of the story, but finds out that political aspiring of the locals is more important than catching criminals. Many things are overlooked and he is cautioned against any action.

When a local girl goes missing, followed by five other girls and his informant Ellie found with a slashed throat, he pursues his elusive scoundrel realising he is accusing the son of one of the most powerful men in the land. An encounter with Lord Essex who has the ear of the Queen, puts our Bailiff in a much stronger position than before.

All ends well, the abducted girls are returned, the Queen actually visits Nottinghamshire and Edward’s wins the heart and hand of his love.

Giving an accurate account of how politics ruled that era this is a good story for historical fiction readers.

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Heir to Murder by Tony Bassett


A story that if you like meticulous police procedures, painstaking detection work will keep you enthralled and entertained.

We have an aristocratic family living in a Hall complete with the requisite Lord, but dogged by tragedy. The elder son went missing in Spain years ago and now the youngest son, estranged from the family, living almost incognito as a sound technician, is found brutally murdered. The suspects are obvious to many, except to D S Sunita Roy who doesn’t take the easiest path and likes to dig deeper, not always supported by her colleagues or superiors.

Many suspects later, an overseas enquiry concluded with a surprising outcome the murder enquiry was concluded and the correct people were behind bars. 

Lots to keep the reader locked in, this was a really good read. I’ll be looking out for the other books by this author. I also liked how at the end of some chapters the writer had an interesting tidbit of information, totally unexpected.

Sent by The Book Folks for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Last Night by Luanne Rice


Maddie is an artist who has made a name for herself. Very rich but in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, battling with a husband who is obsessed and consumed by jealousy over her professional success and even by family ties. Meeting her sister Hadley over the Christmas holidays was supposed to be a joyous reunion but it turned out horribly wrong when Maddie’s body was found with point blank gun shot injuries and more crucial Cee Cee her little daughter missing.

What follows is a story of a teenage boy being set up by his father, to prove his family loyalty by murdering a woman, the deep rooted envy that immense wealth brings and how society gets divided when its greed and jealousy combines. How money sometimes brings so much sadness to some. A complicated story with many suspects which clouded the direction of the investigation till it was sorted out.

Good story.

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