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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 Amos returned scarred, withdrawn and isolated.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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Death in Venice by Verity Bright


The stories involving Lady Eleanor Swift and the mystery murders she somehow gets dragged in are not just good stories. Not just of murder but always include beautiful settings, handsome men, damsels in distress, her own personal butler Clifford and her coterie this time of domestics who have accompanied her to Venice on what was to be a holiday.

Dragged into one murder as a witness, the other deliberately targeted as the suspect, we have a family vendetta reminiscent of the Capulets and the Montagues, with dominant heads of families and a pair of star crossed lovers. 

The settings were picturesque and so descriptive that one was swept along without almost realizing that this is actually a murder mystery that has got to be solved.

Entertaining reading.

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

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Missing Maid by Holly Hepburn


London 1932 very stringent rules govern women’s behaviour and Harriet working raises eyebrows. Grand daughter of a baron, she is very comfortably off but wants to get out of the claustrophobic world of her family. Working in a bank was a job she liked, till the rejected advances of her boss got her relegated to the post room, the back of beyond.

Given the job of replying letters to the fictitious Sherlock Holmes who was depicted as living in Baker Street, Harry does the job efficiently till one letter catches her eye, and she knows she has to do some detective work on her own. Pursuing and finding a missing maid accused of stealing is one matter but Mildred the maid is a victim of a bigger ring of thieves in London. Uncovering this ring also reveals the other seamier side of London life. 

Harry engages the help of Oliver a friend, and despite his warnings of the dangers ahead Harry proceeds regardless. Somewhat similar to the escapades of Lady Eleanor Swift, this was a good read. The cover leaves much to be desired though.

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

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Love Unscripted by Denise Hunter


Chloe has written a best seller. She cannot believe it herself, and when the powers that be decide to turn it into a film, Chloe is overwhelmed. A small town resident running a restaurant with her brother and mother she was not ready for the intricacies of the film world.

Her hero on celluloid is Liam Hamilton, a typical bad boy whom Chloe is horrified being cast as her hero. He has his own personal life issues to sort out, his social media accounts are all critical, he needs a revamp, a steady relationship with a nice young lady and Chloe fits the bill.

It all had to go wrong though, before it righted itself. Family secrets came out, new romances were established, hearts broken, then mended and it ended happily ever after. 

We all need this in our lives!

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

After the scorching heat of the last few weeks, rain and mist are very welcome. At Rozella, Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill

I’m always trying to grab a Sulari Gentill read. She puts disparate characters together in the most cohesive way possible. 

We have Theo running away from her university studies in Australia. She has decided law is not for her and gone back to the refuge of her brothers home. Gus her brother is a hot shot lawyer and understanding and protective, even if he is skeptical of her choices. Then there is Dan an older man who befriends Theo. The mentor relationship develops and her one days sexual encounter with him, ends with his brutal murder and the story starts from there.

Seemingly disconnected, no obvious clues as to who, why or where, Gus’s friend Mac a private eye and more gets involved to find out why the death of Dan who was a popular river, has turned people’s venom against Theo, indirectly Gus and Mac.

Doomsday prophecies, cults, a behind the scenes controlling book agents add to the drama, murders, mayhem and attacks and then the complete disappearance of Theo for three years, till she surfaces again.
The power of a supportive family is amply demonstrated in this story.

Very much edge of the seat reading, this was a page turner which I finished in a day.

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

One of the many beautiful gopurams at Kumbakonam I saw on my last trip to India.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Vineyard Remains by Addison McKnight

Kiki and Angela are cousins living on Martha’s Vineyard. Both have had tough childhoods filled with abuse from parents. Kiki was abandoned by her mother who is now presumed dead, Angela’s mother is in jail for killing her husband, a crime she did not commit but it was either killed or be killed.

It left both girls insecure, and when they both fell pregnant at the same time by one man it meant a cycle of mistrust, secrets and cover ups going well into their adult life.
The story complicated by a change of babies at birth, bitter jealousy over them both in love with one man, Kiki wanting security above everything else for herself and her children, and Angela determined to get Mila the baby who was changed back to herself alone.

The story was drama personified, the characters unlikeable but it was a strongly provocative read.

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

Pamban Bridge at the southern part of India - an engineering marvel.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Murder at the Island Hotel by Helena Dixon


Kitty and Alice have been asked to certify the newly renovated hotel on the island and they are delighted to do so. The hotel is luxurious and posh. Sir Norman and his fiancée have also invited a group of fellow actors as a trial run.

The weather is not very welcoming but everyone settles in. When Sir Norman is found murdered Kitty gets into Police mode because there is no way for the police to cross the seas to get there.
The murderer has to be one of the guests and Kitty by a sense of deduction eliminates her suspects one by one. 

A typical cost mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie, especially with the very British weather and surroundings adding charm to the read.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.


A palace I saw during my recent trip to South India. Magnificient

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Mystery of Haverfordwest House by Rachel Burton


Another story with two timelines.  1933 England Annie, like her mother enters service at Haverford House. Unlike her mother Annie dreams big, and seeks a future without being subservient to the owners and their ilk, who treat domestics as part of the furniture. One day Annie Bishop disappears and a legend starts.

2003 Haverford Houseis under threat of going under and the myth of Annie Bishop is waning. Viola who has worked five years in keeping the house going, now realizes that she has to accept the reality however unpleasant that the house will go up for sale, probably a modern hotel.

The stories from both decades are actually about social change, in the former period radical with WWI And the rise of feminism. In the latter period the bald fact that the privileged life of the “big houses” has come to an end and that the National Trust can only do so much to preserve such buildings.

Descriptive and still very much personal stories of Annie and Viola made for interesting reading.

Sent by Aria & Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

View from my window

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Berlin Letters by Katherine Reay


Luisa has a complicated background, most of which has been hidden from her. Her origins are East German, her grandparents fled after her parents were killed in a car accident. That’s the story told to her and she never questioned it as it was a plausible one. She works as a CIA operative now and a chance symbol on an envelope led her to a stash of letters hidden under a floorboard. Written by her father, who is alive, but languishing in prison, she discovers a trail of espionage, coded and secret in innocuous terms of accounts of daily life.

That accounted for half the story. The rest was the planned rescue of her father, the obstacles, the betrayals on the way, the many ways used by the general population to circumvent the suppression by the Stasi and the Soviets to create fear, dissension in families and keep people subservient and living under a dominant government.

Combining the story of espionage along with the travails of an ordinary family’s immense courage this was brilliantly accounted in detail.

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