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Thursday, January 11, 2018

On a Desert Shore by S.K. Rizzolo




I seem to be reading very busy books of late! so many strands woven into a whole and making a cohesive one is not very easy to do and in this Regency mystery even more so.

We have a society lady, daughter of a rich merchant but she is not a conventional, orthodox miss. Expected to marry well and take her family further up the social ladder, she has failed to do so and now lives in Clapham. And someone is being nasty and it is upto the Bow Street runner the very experienced John Chase to decide whether it is actually Marina herself who has cunningly made herself to be a victim or who is playing tricks on her. There are many suspects and all of them have equal stakes for a very high playing game.

There are additional characters of a lady who has scandalized society as it is by earning her living by writing and her lover a barrister. When invited by Marina's father to join his household John Chase's own story becomes even more difficult to handle. He must seek the support of Penelope the writer and Edward the barrister to overcome so many obstacles and find the truth of who is behind the dangers.

Going from calm and quiet London to the treacherous plantations of Jamaica the story is full of life, vitality and danger.

After a steady diet of too many psychological thrillers and mystery murders, it was nice to read a Regency novel with a twist!

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


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Bookworm by Mitch Silver



Two separate time lines 1940 and 2017. The first was turbulent. No one knew where Hitler's tentacles would reach next. In Belgium the German armies are about to invade a small monastery and steal as much art as they could. A British spy has another plan. His idea is to plant a bible amongst the treasures, one that will foretell and could change the course of history.

Fast forward to 2017. Here the story gets complicated. We have a discovery of a long forgotten murder in London, a Russian historian whose knowledge is legendary in history but who leads a very simple life back in Russia and then the appearance of six dictaphone tapes purported to be made by Noel Coward for Winston Churchill and then to crown it all the well documented activities of an American President with his counterpart in Russia.

The story was good, it was formidably plausible but there was too much going on that the scenes got a little crowded. I think we could have got rid of both the Presidents and the story would still be a very credible one!!!

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

the Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood



I seem to have been buried under mystery/thriller murder books and just came up for a breath of fresh air of a different kind.

History - Mary Queen of Scots and a new aspect of her tumultuous history. She had four ladies in waiting all called Mary. It was almost like joining a nunnery because they had to dedicate their lives and they all did to the wishes, beliefs and life of Queen Mary.

1548 and five little girls are taken from their homes in Scotland for training in France all to serve another Mary. With only vague recollections of their Scottish roots they train in France till one day a decade later they are called back to serve in their homeland. The upheaval, the uprooting, the difficulty of adapting to a new, different, harsher way of life which will show reality in all its ugliness now awaits them. Their loyalties will be tested and for Mary Seaton especially the times are going to be hard.

How she has to chart a future for herself as well without endangering in any way the views and life of the Queen are going to be a challenge for Seton. She serves the longest and she knows the Queen or thinks she knows her the best. But does she?

This aspect of Mary Queen of Scots was from a more personal side of history - her life the way it started, how she was maneuvered into not just one marriage, coerced into another and how keeping up with the formidable Elizabeth on the other side was not going to be a life of much ease. Told from the personal aspect of the women who served her, this was an uncommonly good read.

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

On another note I will be away from home for a month visiting my children in Melbourne. I do hope I find the time to post here. I have been finding it hard to find the time to read and review the way I used to do. I hope I can catch up with the reading at least whilst overseas!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Two good British Crime Classics.



Seven people found dead inside an isolated house. House locked from the inside. The owners a gentleman and his niece the normal occupants of the house missing. Then traced to France. Motives and suspects are all zero.

The story published in 1939 has an old fashioned air and style of writing which is at the same time charming. Slow paced but steady the investigation is pursued. By deduction it is solved.

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


Death Makes a Prophet (Superintendent Meredith, #11)



1940s Welworth Garden City has attracted its fair share or more of free thinkers. Fairly liberal for the era it is also home to a community following a particular way of thinking - the organisation of Coo with its own head of fairly eccetric characters.

Like all communities, there are secrets and blackmailers and murderers and it is upto Inspector Meredith to sort it out and bring back a sense of calm to this city.

A classic mystery crime book which with its religious sect overtones was very good.

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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan

The Girl I Used to Know: A heart-wrenching and heartwarming story of two strangers and one house by [Hogan, Faith]


Two women share the same house over a very long period. One the main house, one the basement flat.  Amanda is married to a very well settled professional with two teenage children. On the surface her life seems complete. Tess is a single woman who has no friends, absolutely no family and lives a very lonely life tucked away in her flat which has not seen improvement for years and is in a bit of a shambles.

Tess seems embittered the way life has turned out to be. She started out as a bright, hopeful star hoping to break into the singing sphere. She fell in love and she thought that was it. Unfortunately that was not to be and her lover fell in love with her placid sister who whisked him away to Ireland.

Amanda is now seeing cracks in her marriage, she feels that her husband is unfaithful,  her children are drifting away from her and that her life has lost all meaning. A chance encounter with Tess seems to slowly bridge the gap and a confrontation with her husband also brings closure though it brings its fair share of heartache. With the absence of her husband her children also begin to be more supportive and life seems to be better. With Tess the constant prodding of her doctor and a few others make her less hesitant to step out into the open and enjoy life once more. It also helps her to try to reach out to her sister to whom she was so close. It helps in all ways for Tess to have closure on many sides.

This was an emotional read. One felt one was on a see saw as there was much sadness and bitterness in the story. Characterization was spot on.

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


Saturday, December 30, 2017

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen



I like history and I like royalty. Coupled together with a good dose of mystery thrown in, this was a good one for me.

With a mission from the Queen on the one hand to find out exactly the situation of the young Prince's philanderings and the state of the monarchy as a result, and on the other hand trying to find out what her loved fiancee Darcy is upto, Lady Georgiana is charged with a mission. Is the Prince about to embark on a secret wedding with the infamous Mrs. Simpson and thwart the hopes of the Queen. Georgiana is entrusted with finding out the exact details and transferring them to the Palace.

To add to the complications, we have Belinda, her friend alone and friendless in an Italian convent sent there to deliver a baby so that no scandal would attach itself to her name when she returns back to London. Georgiana is also to see her and help out in whatever way she can.

Georgiana arrives at the Italian villa to face the people with whom she is supposed to spend a relaxing holiday. She hardly has any affection for any of them, including her hostess (her former school mate) who is very patronizing (having married into the Italian aristocracy!) Add to this to further complicate matters is Georgiana's erstwhile mother who has never publicly acknowledged her daughter with her latest husband. Her mother and others are being blackmailed by a guest and when the guest turns up dead and it is deemed a suicide by the local police and later changed by higher ups to murder,  If  Georgiana wants to get out of this and get back to Belinda, she needs to solve this murder.

The complications are fragmented and varied. It should normally be an irritating read because you jump from one topic to another. It is not. It is a fun read, light hearted and seems to follow a sequence which has no pattern but is nevertheless entertaining.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Berkley Publishing Group.