Friday, October 24, 2014

The Fragrance Shed by a Violet by Lin Wilder

The title is a quote from Mark Twain which I knew about only after I finished the book. It is very apt for this story.

Dr Lindsey McCall is beautiful, brainy, the apple of her father's eye but unfortunately the smote in her sister's and not the most loved by her mother who feels that she is overlooked in the general hierarchy in the family. You know from the beginning that the family is divided and this is going to be the crux of the problem despite accolades from everywhere else.

Lindsey is at the moment incarcerated in jail for complicity in murdering her mother with a drug which is undergoing trials as yet. Lindsey is also not very loud in her defense, she has refused to see friends since her time in jail and has cut off connections with all. 

Fortunately for Lindsey though she seems to have given up on her own defense, there seems to be a myriad others who haven't. Kate Townsend Pulitzer winning journalist and Rich Jansen the criminal defense attorney and presently in charge of the Prisons along with Campbell and a host of others in Texas take charge of the case and in a series of escalating discoveries find out very quickly who the actual culprit is.

Very cleverly told, fascinating what family will and wont do to support and destroy one another, a family story with a touch of romance as well which was a lovely touch. 

I couldn't put this book down and had to finish it in one go!

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for my honest opinion through the publisher Smith Publicity. Thank you. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas


This author handles a topic which is very much one for the current times. To be at the top, to win at all costs and the path to get there.

Taking a look at current Australia, it handles all the topics that an Australian today faces - the cross cultural mix which makes up the country, their migration and the feelings of white supremacy, old idiosyncrasies in families and the competitive world of world sports.

Danny is born to a middle class family. Also a mixed race family - a Greek mother and a white European father. For Danny his mother though so supportive of his ideals is sometimes someone he is ashamed of.  This was sad but realistic. Danny is moving in a world of white young men who are so sure of their identity and position that they seem unshakeable. Having won a scholarship to a prestigious school (the family would never be able to afford the fees otherwise) Danny knows immediately that he is not "one of the chosen few".  However Danny has come there to win. 

His love of the water, his feelings of being one with the water, almost as if the water loves, supports and caresses him (the book is very sensual in this aspect), makes the reader realize very early on that this is the feeling that will carry Danny through and make him win. The water gives him the confidence that no one can. Once in the water, he is another person. One who will win at any cost.

In Barracuda at times the language is just over the top, there is so much swearing and crude sex but I guess that adds to the tone of the book. You also wonder whether the author is critical of the competitive spirit which overwhelms one in the world of Australian sport? Whether this is a world wide phenomenon I don't know. 

The story of the life of Danny centred around swimming, around winning and then losing, the characters that surround Danny during his epic rise and fall are the story.

This will not be a book for everyone but it is an eyeopener all right.

I received this book from Blogging for Books. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

While we're far apart by Lynn Austin

While We're Far Apart

Stories set in WWII are especially emotional. Tinged with the sorrow of separation, invariably death and misery follow. When there are Jews involved it becomes even more complicated. You see how the actions of a single man effected millions of lives. You also see how people (some of them) did nothing to stop the carnage and others in a small but myriad ways helped individual people and in this way, nations survived.

We have two distinct families - one a Christian family. Recently having lost their mother in a tragic car crash, the father does not seem to be able to live in the same environment and despite having the care of two very young children, he enlists to fight. In the same building we have an older Jewish man. He lost his wife in the same accident, and now finds that with Germany invading Europe, his only son who went to Hungary to enroll in Jewish religious school is now missing with his wife and young daughter. Both survivors in this building fear the worst. One the war and the other the unknown because news of the Jewish incarceration was slow to reach the world. By the time it did, it was far too late for many.

On the sidelines we have a naive young woman Penny. She has always been in love with Eddie and volunteers her services to look after the children whilst Eddie is away. She is an extremely protected young woman with no self esteem at all and seems such a wrong choice. Eddie however gratefully accepts her offer not knowing that she is in love with him and hoping that this would give her an opportunity to win his heart over. The children do not like her taking care of them but the option of going to live with an unwilling grandmother is not one they want to accept so its no choice for them at all.

How all of them survive the two years of not knowing what the future will hold, the uncertainty of life and how they have to survive for their own sakes if nothing else is this story.

Very descriptive of Jewish rituals and the meaning of them (that was interesting) and the ties that bind families together was told very well. It took a while to actually get into the book but I am glad I persisted.

This was a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What are you reading?

Mailbox Monday is very late and its because I was in Singapore.


two of the things I like the river and the buildings surrounding it and the orchids. Fabulous.

The books that came this last week were

The Marriage Game

Elizabeth I. Sex, intrigue and romps! Courtesy of Edelweiss.

Six and a Half Deadly Sins

Laos 1979. New setting for me. Also from Edelweiss.

The Snail Man

Mystery novel. Amazon download.


Reading the last in the trilogy of the Love at Pemberley series. This was ideal reading for the plane ride!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Very short review! The Diary of a Pissed Off Flight Attendant

I went into this book hoping that it would be a light hearted read of the life of a flight attendant. It was not!

The tone was snarky, and I always felt that the author was condescending and patronizing towards her passengers. That was my personal feel on this book.

This was sent to me by Net Galley via Smith Publicity. Thank you for sending both this and The Fragrance Shed by a Violet very quickly after my request. The other book sent by them was very good.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This was a book I read about on Serena's blog. Stories set in Asia draw me in - maybe because I live here and this kind of one set in a family of mixed race is one of the best. Stories such as this gives you an insight into how different people live, their way of life despite living cheek and jowl by each other for centuries may be so different as to be almost different countries. 

We have Agnes just seventeen, still schooling but mature and able to understand the problems facing her family. Aristocratic they may be but they are so poor that economies are constantly having to be made just to survive. Living in a crumbling palace, leaky and falling down upon their ears they still maintain in a diminished way their position in local society. Their only income in the small pension her British grandfather gets and an income from three boarders.

Only from the discussions of music and style does one get the feeling that the story is set in the 1920s. You get the colonials who are still ruling the roost in Asia and everyone being quite subservient to them but these are all about to change and you feel it in the air. Agnes is quite naive however - she is the only youngster in a household of older people and quite protected as a young Muslim woman. Her knowledge of the world of men is limited and so she is prey to her feelings and emotions very much like any teenager is at any time anywhere. Agnes or Aggie as she was known matured and grew from an unaware teenager to someone whose wits were very much in focus by the end of the story.

This is a coming of age story. In exotic surroundings which added to the allure and set against the political turmoil that is Asia.  I was extremely glad that Netgalley sent it to me courtesy of their publishers Lake Union Publishing. 

The Englishman. Can love go the distance? by Helena Halme

The Englishman: Can Love Go the Distance?

I found this book recommendation on a blog and was intrigued by the title. Inter cultural marriages are very interesting and the blurb piqued my interest more.

A Finnish girl, very young, very insular meets up with an English navy officer working on a submarine at a cocktail party in Helsinki. It is a chance meeting and one of those times which is a real karmic one! if she hadn't gone this story would not be here. A developing attraction between the two continues over the years with him always on his submarine and she at University trying to finish her degree. They meet intermittently either in Helsinki or she flies to London. They meet each others families - she is nervous of meeting his clan, he isn't and is not put off by her overbearing father.

The story of the contrast and conflicts in culture is described very well in between the meetings and the love story which develops and this is what adds a lot of interest to the book. It is quite true that there has to be a lot of give and take in such marriages from simple things like food and drink to social habits. If one is adamant about not giving up on anything or not accepting anything "different" I would say the relationship is doomed.  That the young couple here was flexible was the first plus point and you knew that there seemed to be a future for them both.

Long distance relationships are put under more pressure than any other and this one gets more than its fair share. The ups and downs of this relationship alongside the misunderstandings that arise when one is far apart are handled nicely in this book.

Enjoyed this light read which was a free download from Amazon.