Friday, February 5, 2016

Pop Goes the Weasel by M J Arlidge

I didn't know this was one of a series and since I got to Book No. 2 I must go look for the rest.

DI Helen is in disgrace with her superiors over her handling of a case. It ended badly and even her colleagues are uneasy with her. Helen knows the next case will make or break her and the next one is a horror alright!

Seemingly random men are being picked off by a prostitute dismembered, their hearts cut out and worst of all sent to their families or to their office. The feeling in the town is one of unease and pressure is on to solve the case as soon as possible.

Helen makes an ideal character for a series. She can sustain the story in more cases and this is something I am going to look forward to. Like Inspector Lynley her character is forceful and unique and I think this will make it a success.

The violence and general gory is part of the story and how it eventually wraps up is cleverly done.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Penguin Group  Berkeley.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

After a host of light fiction, women's fiction and romance, this was just right. A book which was like an autobiography of one of the greatest historical figures ever - David of Israel.

I myself did not know of David's ancestry or his rise to fame and fortune and greatness. From being a shepherd boy herding his father's sheep in obscurity, to be propelled to greatness had to have a hand of fate. It just had to be!

The story charts his rise from a simple boy then someone who becomes a soldier much loved guardian of the King, then thrust into kinghood, just and kind, mighty and good, then murderous and machiavellian, cunning and everything that he should not have been.

His many marriages, some political, some of the heart added a lot of interest to the story. The many sons he had created problems from the start as one knew divisions would arise when a kingdom of this stature was at stake. How the break up happened, how he lost it all is detailed in this book. The past history of David is derived from three sources - as told to Natan and as he wrote it down. That gives a faithful account of history upto that point. The future is still to come and that was what Natan saw and dreaded.

The story told from the point of Natan, a seer and prophet, one who was loved and trusted by the King and the heartache of Natan who knew what was coming was very sensitively told.

This was a book that could not be read quickly. You had to savor the read as it was very intense.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Little, Brown Book Group UK for an unbiased review.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon

This was an easy read.

I had not read anything in this series so the characters were new to me. They are the straight forward characters one would find in a country village. The vet Dooley his wife to be Lace their parents. The wedding looked forward to by the whole county as it were. A simple affair. Potluck. Barn cleared out for guests and dancing. Anything that could go wrong? not very likely, but like all the best laid plans things can get out of hand a bit. No one accounts for changes in weather, there are many surprises along the way but thankfully it all gets smoothed out in the end.

Very pleasant reading.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Penguin Group Putnam. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

This is a story of  a family with a lot of secrets. Most families do but this one has more than their fair share. June is looking forward to reconciliation with her daughter who has been estranged for years. Lolly is getting married the next day and June hopes that with Will, her daughter will find peace and contentment and maybe just maybe that would spill into a better relationship with June.

Tragedy strikes and June loses them all. Not just her daughter and son in law to be, but also her ex husband and her lover Luke. In this small knit tight community gossip spreads like wildfire and without reason and June flees this town for anywhere she can get some peace.

The story is told in segments with many different people involved in the story having a part. June, Cissy, Lydia all tell their stories and overall its a mixture of sadness and hopelessness of lives lived with a great deal of suffering and remorse without hope of ever seeing closure.

Very much highlighting the power of the family, our need for love and affection and the very great need we all have to just survive to see another day are seen in this writing.

Though very emotional, the book was an excellent read. The sadness was never off putting.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK Vintage Publishing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

A political reporter falling in love with the First Lady. Sounds improbable and that it happened and was maintained for years shows how much can be done without the technical advantages of bugging, long distance lens, papparazzi etc.

I cannot imagine a scenario like this going undiscovered today or even if discovered not being talked about on every show imaginable! Here there were innuendoes and hints but nothing more and talk just generally died down. Hicks was the AP reporter during the period of the Great Depression. Her appointment alone as a reporter was very unusual. Women reporters got the society pages and the women's pages. She covered trials, political meetings and the like and this threw her in contact with Eleanor Roosevelt. Hicks finally covered Eleanor during the pre Presidential run and subsequently went "undercover" to follow the effects of the Great Depression on the American public.

The fact that the First Lady of the time was an unwilling participant in the political field and that she  had to handle FDR's roving eye and at the same time maintain a facade of the perfect family was the reason that Eleanor looked elsewhere for affection and love. She found it with several people and this story was the one between Hicks and Eleanor.

Very poignant, emotional and loving it was also sad. One knew that there was never going to be a happy ending and that both parties would have to move away from the situation.

The Great Depression brought out in vivid detail from the farming communities to the mining one from the timber forests and to the black communities segregated and marginalized the story is one of great detail and shows how politics was the most important thing in the game, people came a very very far second.

A compelling read which was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Persevero Press for an unbiased review. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain always writes about secrets, I think everyone has them and sometimes like in the story they are not that easy to reveal,however much you love your partner or boyfriend or anyone.  The story once again going into two time lines - one when Molly was a youngster and one when she is all grown up in her mid thirties - seems to be a recurring theme with all the books I've chosen. I am not complaining though.

Molly and Aidan desperately long for a baby. It is not going to happen. One miscarriage and one hysterectomy later they put themselves on an adoption list. This is an unusual adoption procedure (though it may be common elsewhere, not known in my part of the world). This is an open adoption and the birth mother, grandmother, other members of the family may have access to the child who is being given for adoption. It is not just photographs once a year.

Aidan is wholly open to the idea, but Molly knowing her own background has reservations. She is worried whether she will welcome the birth mother as warmly as she does now, will she be able to love an adopted child as well as she loves her own biologically born child. Questions which seem very rational to Molly given her background which is still unknown to her husband. Molly herself is in a quandary as to whether she should/should not divulge her history to her husband with whom she is otherwise very open to.

The characterization is spot on in this book. Molly and Aidan are a mature couple and they seem typical of the family wanting to and needing to adopt. Sienna the birth mother is a teenage mother with one bad incident in her life which resulted in this pregnancy. She also cares about the birth of this child and whom it is going to. She knows she cannot bring this baby up on her own and that she is putting her entire future at stake if she keeps the baby. Sienna's mother Ginger is troubled by the fact that her first grand child will be growing up not knowing her birth family. There is also Molly's very chequered family history that has to be considered and sorted out if Molly is to ever have peace.

A very good story very well told.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of St Martin's Press, for an unbiased review.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Long Room by Francesca Kay

Stephen is a spy who listens to other people's conversations and he imagines their lives beyond the conversation. When this fantasy gets a hold of him in the case of Helen and her husband whom they already suspect (we never know why or how they are involved) he takes it a step further, fabricating conversations, following up on the people (strictly forbidden) and falling in love with a woman he has only listened to.

A sad depiction of a nice person who wants to have a life and love of his own. He is in the wrong profession and though the others working with him are "normal", fun loving familied people Stephen is somewhat different.

 Stephen's mind is under pressure and that is when the imagination runs riot. Clinically told and at the same time leading to a suspenseful end (which you know is not going to be happy ever after), the book held my interest until the end.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Faber & Faber Ltd.