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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Murder Between The Lines by Radha Vatsal





Part of a series which I did not know about, this book was a good stand alone one which did not detract from its story or the series.

Set at the very end of 1915 and going into January of 1916 it depicts an era of change in America like it was all around the world especially for women. We have Kitty Weeks employed as a journalist, but in her father's eyes it is more or less a hobby. He wanted her to do this job without pay as she did not need the money at all and for Kitty it was more about asserting herself as an independent woman more than anything else. There was no vote for women as yet, the suffrage movement was just picking up and the position of women in public life was almost nil.

Kitty's assignment is Westfield Hall a prestigious school for girls, forward thinking for their times and supportive of girls higher education. A student found frozen to death supposedly whilst sleep walking makes an enquiry necessary but Kitty is not sure that all is what it seems. There seems to be a cover up from several people including most strangely the girl's parents themselves. That Elspeth was herself of a scientific bent of mind and was trying to disprove a theory re batteries involving the Navy Yard and the new ships being built were all pointers to Kitty that a conspiracy was afoot. Big names are involved with lucrative contracts involved and Kitty puts her investigative journalistic skills to play to uncover what actually happened. A second death under very mysterious circumstances adds to the intensity of the story.

Apart from the actual mystery, the story highlighted American politics in the White House of the time. President Wilson was in the White House and he did not seem progressive at all! there were strong women lobbying for women's rights but they would have a long way to go before they were successful. These stories added much interest to the book.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sourcebooks, Landmark.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft





Olivia and Clara two sisters, separated at a very young age due to the death of their parents. One brought up by a grandmother determined to keep the two girls apart. It was a maneuvered coincidence that brought them together in colonial Egypt, both brought to this country of their birth by marriage. One marriage seemingly happy, the other brutal, painful and abusive of the most horrific.

The setting for the story was excellent. England again in colonizing mode trying to hold this disparate country together in the face of many odds. A hostile people who did not take easily to these foreign masters and people like Olivia's husband who were the lowest of the low, exploiting everyone and treating every person he met so badly that you wondered how he was not done away with before now.

The story reaches a climax with Clara's abduction and the entire facade of both sisters lives begins to slowly unravel as actions of their respective husbands play out on a new scenario which places both sisters in grave danger. The romantic element of Olivia finding love in her own house with a lodger brought by her own husband adds another element to this tense story.

The historical setting of the story added a lot to the story which was one of betrayal and love. Alexandria at the time was colorful enough but with villains, heroes and heroines also thrown into the mix, the story was intriguing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Little Brown Book Group UK, the story revealed history from a very personal angle as well.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Exact Nature of our Wrongs by Janet Peery





A family story is never straight forward. This one has more than its fair share of difficult characters. From an AIDS affected younger son, to those who have been indicted for drunk driving, for siblings to whom popping drugs - of any kind is just a day to day "harmless" occupation, Hattie and Abel find themselves perplexed at what they have produced!

Hattie is a woman who is willing to believe the best in everyone and this particularly applies to her family. While everyone knows that Billy is robbing her blind, she pretends that this does not happen but that he is just taken advantage of by all and sundry (not the other way around). She tries to excuse shortfalls in all her children and blindly follows her husband's orders, despite hidden resentments surfacing on and off. These resentments at his high handedness are pushed deep within her mind and she conveniently forgets them until the next time.

Abel on the other hand is aging, with an onset of dementia (?) but is unwilling to accede to any what he sees as weakness on his part to give control of any part of his life to his family. He wants to be the autocrat till the end and greatly succeeds in doing this, despite resentment from all.

This is the background to the story and naturally its ups and downs makes for a good story. Children in their middle age squabbling is ugly, squabbling over stuff which they hope to inherit is even worse but these are facts of life - evident in life around us and this author has descriptively detailed everything out - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Very well told story sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green





With migration so much in the news, this was a forced migration of sorts. Set in the 1720s it is factually correct. The story is a fascinating one. France wanted French citizens to occupy Louisiana state in America. They could not find willing participants to their scheme. So they offered it as a way out for people in prison who would have ended their days in the prison. Many would have taken it as a way out of a horrible life, but what made it inhuman was not just being sent to a place which they knew nothing about, but that as soon as they were taken out of prison they were forcibly married to men also released from prison whom they only saw for a few minutes before they were forced to wed.

With such inauspicious beginnings it is surprising that any of the immigrants survived, or that the marriages lasted. Some of them did. And some did not even last the journey to the other side of the Atlantic. Conditions on board ship were primitive and harsh and life in Louisiana was worse.

The story depicted is one of survival. Sheer grit, determination against all odds, and the odds were stacked up so heavily against her that Julianne survived not just the death of her husband, the stigma of being a midwife convicted for murder and her constant fight against men who sought her downfall.

The book was a fascinating glimpse into a part of both French and American history many may not be aware of. The act of colonizing nations has brought about so much of heartache to people, though to governments intent on annexing another country for wealth and fortune, these are not things even considered by them as important. The individual stories are all heartfelt stories of which even in this short period of four years, must be so many and each one different.

This very interesting read was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.







Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jack and Jill by James Patterson An Alex Cross Thriller









Alex Cross's third foray into crime is as good as it gets.

A controversial Senator found handcuffed to his bed and cold bloodedly executed at point blank range. On the other side of the same town a six year old girl brutally killed. The killings continue apace alternatively with each other. Are the two killing sprees linked in any way or are there two separate cold blooded killers stalking Washington DC. The one killer targets high upmarket stakes and the other is more low key. The attention to the two murders by the powers that be is also markedly different to the disgust of the detectives handling the cases.

The sign offs on the murders of the upmarket killings are Jack and Jill. Coincidentally and frighteningly they are also the code names for the President of the US and his wife. When the killings get more and more linked to the Presidency, it is a high alert for all the agencies across the board to protect their President. But for how long can the President be shielded from events, people and his position. Not for long and the President himself declares that life will go on as usual, come what may.

On the other part of town the killing of children also continues and the neighbourhoods are frightened that nothing seems to be done, despite all the detective work going on. Detective Alex Cross has taken it upon himself personally along with his team to follow up on all leads but they are becoming less and less certain of their suspects.

In both cases, initial suspects are not right so they have to dig deeper and deeper. No clues left around, no amount of profiling turns up suspects and Alex Cross has to find their suspects fast. They know that the killers are clever, very clever and it although late in the day it has to be solved at any cost.

Fast paced, beautiful detective work, painstakingly following up leads and deducing what will happen is always interesting to read about. Patterson does this job beautifully.


Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK, Cornerstone this was a book you had to read in one go. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Romilly by Cate Charleston

Romilly

An Edwardian family/romance story but certainly with many twists to it that it could very well have been set in present times. The over riding sense of protocol and correctness was certainly there but not overwhelmingly so, and whether such a situation could survive in those times I really do not know but it made for a very interesting, fast paced read.

Romilly and her mother have lived a very quiet life. Being Methodist, 'chapel' rules their day to day lives and both of them seem very satisfied the way it has turned out to be. Romilly has never questioned why she is so sequestered from others, not encouraged to make friends even at the academy she went to and certainly not with members of the chapel. Her mother despite being an ardent supporter of chapel, maintains a reserve that is chilling.

With the death of her mother, Romilly's new life begins with startling revelations. It also brings her into contact with the very rich and very social world. A world totally alien to her and which she has been always told to hold aloof from. How she is going to reconcile her natural good sense with what she has been taught from the day she was born is tricky because many things go against the grain. Despite a very delicate air, Romilly survives and thrives meeting antagonism and social disapproval head on because she has the support of her new immediate family.

The romance was for me just by the way as the story of family and support, and women standing up for themselves was much more important. It was however a nice by product!

I loved this read very much which was a free download from Amazon. I only wish the other two books were also available!  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir



The murderer here was calculating, clever and cold blooded. The methods used are unheard of, gruesome but they all mean something obviously. Trying to link the dots and trying to find a connection between the three is what the detectives have to find.

Facing a blank wall of seemingly endless clues with no connection and no idea of where to go next, a random arrest seems to make everyone happy. The fact that the so called murderer gets a stroke, is paralysed and unable to talk from that point on seemingly closes the case. It all seems very conveniently done and you still feel that somewhere down the line, the investigation has slipped.

Seemingly random, seemingly without motive the detectives move slowly but not forward. It is just by a simple deduction right at the end that it even gets closure and then it seems so simple.
Set in Iceland was interesting enough though it did not convey enough of the background. I would have liked to have seen and known more about the setting. I am glad that this author is getting known via translation as her books are certainly engrossing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.