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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Before I go by Catherine Cookson





A candid story of a rags to riches story of an extremely prolific author - forthright and truthful to the end.

Catherine Cookson's life was hard from the word go. An alcoholic mother who played on the child's emotions, a friend who played her out ruthlessly not just whilst living but even after she was dead (keeping letters in a place where she knew it will be found and hoping that it will hurt and destroy her marriage) and the worst of it all undiagnosed illnesses which would have killed off a less strong willed person.

The illness alone was enough for a biography. It was continuous and Catherine Cookson talks about it so matter of factly it is unbelievable. Even depression after bouts of miscarriages did not mar her spirit, and the jealousy of peers and those around her at her literary success did not affect her generosity of mind. The enduring love and support of her husband is the beacon of light in this story and it shines throughout.

This book was discovered after her death and its publication is a wonderful story of a very brave woman who fought astounding odds to gain the literary position she did.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Sultan and the Queen by Jerry Brotton



Elizabeth I was always a women to be reckoned with. She would done very well in the present times, ruthlessly deciding what was best for her country and her country alone. At the time, she was fiercely loyal to her country and decided that any decision she took was vital for the development of England alone.

Having been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, she was now in a predicament how to maintain her trade links and more than maintain, how to further develop them with the Sultan's Empire. She knew vast amounts of money could be made through trade which would in turn help England immensely.

Establishing trade missions with Morocco, Iran and the Sultan established English supremacy in the trade world for years to come. She had to do a delicate balancing act with these missions  and make sure the alliances went from strength to strength.  Everything Eastern  become fashionable and in demand and this was what established England as a trading power right into the twentieth century.

For readers of history, this was another fascinating read of a powerful Monarch who balanced being a woman and a ruler in medieval times very well. It showed it could be done.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Penguin Group Viking. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Valley by Helen Bryan

The Valley (The Valley Trilogy #1)

This was the only cover I could find and I read it in a Kindle variation.

A coming of age story apart from the vast history it covers which in itself was a story. Sophia is an heiress to a tobacco plantation in Virginia and this is the only asset she has left after she finds herself left bankrupt in England. With the help of a French man who is very reluctant to go with her, lots of slaves both free and indentured she sets out to claim her land.

The road to Virginia is hard and troublesome but Sophia is determined that she and her band will make a life for themselves. How they set up camp, marry (all of them) have families, make a settlement and town of a barren landscape is very descriptively and told in detail. The history of slavery, the treatment of slaves even free men was horrendous and was distressing to read about even years later.

The story goes on and on and could have been trimmed a bit. Maybe the telling of it was necessary for the plot but the main story of Sophia got side lined as numerous other characters also had a fairly large role to play and each of their stories added to the main.

It took me a while to get through this book and I felt bad because it had been on my Kindle for a very long time.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ANNA by Niccolo Ammaniti



This kind of futuristic genre is generally not in my comfort zone and for the greater part of the book I was not quite there with the author on this one. This does not detract from the story line at all. A future that was very bleak where Anna as the elder sister was totally responsible for her younger sibling, foraging for medicines and food in a world that was so so hostile and predatory, took my breath away.

I was always on edge during the story, not knowing what fate would befall both children and the depth of responsibility Anna showed as a result of a death bed promise to her mother was amazing.

This book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Canongate Books.


No One Hears But Him by Taylor Caldwell



It has been sometime since I read a more spiritual book so this made a good change!

A Sanctuary has been built in very pleasant surroundings. It is meant to give solace and meaning to life to those who enter. One is for people and one is for the person who listens.

Those who come here are those who seek answers as to why life has burdened them with sorrows which are not bearable. People want answers but the answers they get may not be the ones they want.

The novel deals with the idea of faith surmounting all issues. Not an easy concept to understand or accept. This was why it took me a long while to finish this book. It had to be read slowly.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Accident by Dawn Goodwin




A nightmare for any couple. A tragic accident tears a young family apart. A loss of a child in such circumstances rends this family apart and does not bring them any closer. Months go by and the situation does not seem to improve at all. The mother seems to revert to a state of not acknowledging the absence of her child and the father tries to reach out to her and at the same time, has no support for his own overwhelming sorrow.

Enter a new friend who supports the mother, brings her out of her shell and forces her to live again.
It may not be the ideal way to go about things and old friends are shut out firmly, mainly because they remind her too much of the past. As the days go by Veronica seems to drift deeper and deeper into a morass of her own mind which seems to make sense only to her. You wonder where it is all going to end and you also know its not going to be good.

The ending of course is with a twist in the tale. It is that which supports the whole story.

It was a sad story, very emotional, very good characterization.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Double Cross by David Hegarty




Selling whiskey was going to be a slightly shady but accepted practice in Dublin. Denis Murphy was doing a favour for a friend and was going to be slightly richer for it. He did not know that he was in for a major double cross and that he was going to get involved with seasoned criminals.

From whiskey to guns, to blackmail, several murders, violence and a lot of aggression the plot develops with Murphy now trying to save his skin, that of his mates and Melissa whom he has begun to have feelings for. Getting it all together in the face of powerful criminals is not going to be easy and Murphy has to use his wits against a very rich cartel of criminals who would stoop to anything to get where and what they want.

On top of it all the police are now on his tail as they feel he is a person that they are interested in. Trying to get out of the situation alive, along with his friends is his aim. Managing that feat needs ingenuity and cunning.

A bit complicated with several strands of different events coming together, the characters were well developed and the story built up very well.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Endeavour Press.