Google+ Followers

My Blog List

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson



Described as a book on Marie Antoinette, that is not quite right. The book is so much more. It details the life and times of a woman who worked for the Queen before the Revolution, her life during and finishes with the death of Marie Antoinette. As such, it is descriptive of the time of the Revolution and the life and time of Parisians particularly at the time.

It was a turbulent time and Marie Antoinette did not help herself at all by her behaviour. Her reserve was put down to arrogance, she was detested because she was foreign (Austrian) and whatever the King did or did not do, was put down to her influence (it was not). The King was indecisive and twisted every which way. Even after a decision was made, he could easily be swayed by any one of his Ministers who did not help his situation either.

Giselle is one young woman who works for the Queen particularly looking after her wardrobe. This is an area which has special interest to Giselle who hopes one day to design and make dresses for a living in her own shop. She is also a spy. This she does in a very unobtrusive manner in which no one, neither the Queen or her trusted woman Madam Campan is aware at any time of the double life which Giselle leads. Though she has been instructed to keep her ears and eyes open for any untoward happenings in the Royal Household, Giselle is sympathetic to the Queen and her plight because she realises very early on that the Queen is being held accountable for any wrong that goes on in the country. Unfortunately for Marie Antoinette, rising prices and the power of the nobility is so great , that nothing is done for the masses and the time for rebellion is ripe. Nothing is going to stop it now.

The end of the dynasty in France was pathetic, demeaning and aggressive. It did not bode well for France but people who were starving just wanted a change. They saw the opulence of the court and saw the poverty of their own lives in stark contrast. Giselle herself was not aristocratic but from a middle class background and she saw and understood life on both sides of the divide. She understood the hardships of the ordinary people very well but she also knew that the King and Queen were being guided by the wrong people and nothing could be done to save them.

Giselle herself was a self contained soul, she wanted what most young people want. A decent future, a husband and a happy home. She got out when she could because as she and her young husband knew a witch hunt would start to weed out any Royal sympathisers and having worked for the Queen loyally throughout, Giselle would be suspect.

The story of Marie Antoinette though in essence the story, the life of Giselle is for me the more focused part. The Revolution itself is the background.

The story was descriptive, and detailed.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

The Swap by Nancy Boyarsky



It was going to be a simple swap of houses. Her condo in LA for a house in London. It was also an attempt to rekindle her marriage and she felt that by paying more attention to her husband and being with him full time, things may improve.

It proved to be an adventure of a different kind.  There were many strands in the story. People began following Nicole. Her husband did not find it strange even when a bomb exploded in the vehicle she was going to drive, just a few seconds before she got in. It killed a neighbour who was very kindly trying to show her how to start the car. Even then Brad felt that she was imagining things. This was when Nicole began to think that Brad's preoccupation may mean bigger things than just a flirtation with an office assistant.

Throw in thuggery, drug smuggling, money laundering, sleuths and the local police on a trail of everyone and you have a complicated plot which did not seem that it was going to have a happy ending for lots of people.

The book is fast paced but it is not quite a mystery or a thriller. Interesting reading though.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Light Messages Publishing. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Way Back To Florence by Glen Waybittle



I never tire of reading about WWII and WWI war stories. This set in Florence detailing the lives of ordinary citizens in the face of fascist Italy is remarkable.

Freddie, Isabella and Oskar are friends at art school. That they are three different nationalities is of no consequence but it becomes very important when war breaks out. Oskar is Jewish, Freddie is English and only Isabella is Italian. It puts them all in very precarious positions and Isabella more than most. Freddie returns to England to fly for the RAF and Isabella is left alone to fend for herself in very trying and suspicious conditions. Oskar's life becomes a nightmare.

The day to day workings of life under a foreign invader, made much worse by the workings of your own neighbours and friends against you made life much harder. You never knew who was a spy, who was out to get you, sometimes just for spite nothing else.  They just did not like your attitude, or what you stood for before hostilities started. It could have been that you had more money, you were popular or that you were pretty. You could get arrested, thrown into prison and after that never seen again.

Isabella had to work with all the above and still try to survive. She had to survive because she knew that Freddie was not dead and that she must be around to be with him when he returns. She also knew that she must survive to try to help out whoever she could, in whatever way she could. That this would endanger her life and put her under torture and imprisonment was to be expected.

This was a sad but a very good story well told.

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Deadly Treasures by Vivian Conroy


Deadly Treasures (Lady Alkmene #3)



I am reading books with unusual names for the ladies! In this one Lady Alkmene Callender is anyway an unusual lady for her times. Disinterested in marriage and deaf to the match making tricks of all her relations including her father, a visit to an archaeological site is one she cannot resist, in spite of a prospective groom being the bait!

Finding the groom to be a suspect in a murder case does not deter Alkmene who uses all her detective skills to find out who the real culprit is. The fact that she and journalist Jake are also under threat does not deter her at all.

Told in an easy going style, the characters all blend nicely together to tell a story in a very listenable manner.

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


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This side of murder by Anna Lee Huber

This Side of Murder (Verity Kent, #1)


I am always looking for new mystery/thriller/suspense authors and this was a really lucky find. It combined my love for the WW era, a strong effective woman and a mystery death as well. The combination was irresistible. Now the difficulty would be to track down the next book in the series. This was the first one in the Verity Kent series.

Verity is a young woman who has worked in the Secret Service during WWI. She has lost her husband as well and is trying very hard to accept this and move on. It is just fifteen months after she received news of the death of her husband, but there was no body. Getting an invitation to visit the home of one of her husband's colleagues to celebrate and engagement was she felt one more step towards closure as she felt that meeting them would bring her peace of mind. That was the last thing she ever felt as circumstances and events took over from the moment she set out on this journey to a beautiful, scenic, isolated part of the British coast to an island where she and the rest of the party would be cocooned together and the entire drama would slowly unravel.

It was a beautiful piece of writing, building up in stages, never erupting but systematically going on to the next event and the next. Unexpected surprises at every turn, kept my interest going till the very end. Very descriptive as well this was such an enjoyable book to read I was sorry it had to end so soon.

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

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen



An idyllic setting of Farleigh Place. What anyone would envision the English countryside to be like. WWII has now come here and everyone is either working for the forces, or his house is occupied and taken over for a hospital or a convalescence center. Those who are not working directly in the Forces are working indirectly in the form of a land army or a women's center, All work towards a war effort.

At Fairleigh Place Lord Westerham and his five daughters are all also involved in one way or another in the war effort. A failed parachute landing raises suspicions that the man who died was a German spy in British army uniform and Ben Cresswell is assigned the task of unraveling the mystery. Engaging the services of many people Ben has to see who is the traitor in their midst in this small village where everyone knows everyone.

Could Lord Westerham's own family be involved in the treachery and betrayal and could Ben along with Pamela, Lord Westerham's daughter try to prevent an even bigger betrayal and tragedy that could effect the whole of Britain.

The war setting, the war effort and the patriotism and support which the average Englishman gave to both wars are told in numerous stories, each one more poignant and personal than the last. I never tire of reading individual stories, acts of heroism and the stoic support in the face of untold hardship that the average man and woman gave to their country.

This is another of those stories.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge




This was an uncomfortable book to read. To accept that such young girls could be manipulative, obssessive and for me basically something very wrong mentally was not right.

A thirteen year old girl returns home from boarding school. Bored, bubbling with anticipation, frustration, feelings all of it but she does not have the courage to act on anything. Not until Harriet the slightly older teen appears on the scene. Egged on by her they decide to ensnare Peter Biggs, himself bored, middle aged but unaware of sinister plans on the part of the girls.

This is going to be their biggest dare, their biggest summer ever but what will be the end result, what they hope to gain from it, neither of them clearly knows. But it is wrong and in a way evil what they plan and hope to do. Their families and everyone around them are just unwitting partners.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood



Murder in the Dark (Phryne Fisher, #16)



It is 1928 and it is going to end with the best of parties The rich and not so rich but flamboyant and the risque are going to be present. The Hon. Phyrne Fisher is also invited. She was in two minds about going but when threats appeared telling her not to go if she valued her life, she knew she had to be present.

A sleuthing mystery of a different kind as the setting was unusual to say the least. The atmosphere is full of hash and sex, romance of many kinds, unusual men and women, unusual children as well and the underlying threat that follow in the form of riddles accompanied by the mysterious disappearance of both children. A world of glamour, parties of the most complicated kind and a lot of fun and laughter and high living.

Unravelling the riddles was an experience in itself and Phyrne has to make sure that the children are discovered before harm comes to them.

Unexpected twists and very quaint story telling made this an usual mystery thriller, one of a series.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

By Light Of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy



Seemingly impossible, beautifully and meticulously and detailed research makes this a story that was poignant, emotional, romantic, historically fascinating and also hopeful.

Animosity against Jews has been universal. It has existed for hundreds of years. We go back five hundred years in this story where a seemingly impossible love existed between a Christian and a Jew and a ring that has come down twenty three generations with a message to each generation that they must find the Christian family who saved a Jew and gave them this ring, and return it to them.

To Alma and Manuel a Jew and a Catholic trying to trace ancestry - one this improbably owner of the ring and the other his father's dying dream of establishing their precedents, two more unlikely youngsters one couldn't imagine. Alma is orthodox Jewish follows the laws and customs of her people, Manuel is on the verge of joining a seminary. Both families look askance at the friendship. Both families are cautious where this will go though both Alma and Manuel have no romantic feelings for each other.

The story is convoluted, long and goes back and forth in time. Told in separate time frames going back five hundred years and then hopping across to the present times is not easy but the author handles this seamlessly. You never have a sense of being jarred out of the twentieth century and then going back to the fourteenth. It is a very smooth transition.

I enjoyed the story very much - all its facets. History, religion, romance, geography the works.

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017




Very early on in this story you knew that things were not exactly as they seemed.  Two young girls went missing - were they abducted, did they run away, are they still alive. The investigation is still not quite closed but its been three years now. Of a sudden the younger girl returns. She just turns up at the door to her mother's house with a very long, perfectly logical explanation as to what has happened to her and her elder sister. Now it is the turn of the investigators to find the elder sister from the clues given by Cass the younger girl.

Abby and Leo are the investigators for this from three years ago and they take over again. Abby has her own suspicions but without proof it is not easy to pin point anything. Cass's explanations are explicit, very detailed with just enough clues to keep the investigative process going rapidly. The background at home is very complicated - parents separated and mother married again. There are step children involved and the mother is not your average lady on the street.

The story was full of suspense. It was a psychological battle between a mother with narcissist tendencies who was manipulative, deceitful and self centred. Nothing else mattered to her other than herself. The story was twisted and took a great deal of step by step story telling to unravel it.

The book was sent to me by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley for an unbiased review.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall



A debut novel of exceptional poignancy.

A coming of age story set on an isolated island - with a lighthouse. The lighthouse and its occupants are the chief characters in this story and the others are playing pivotal but important roles. Kate is the light house keeper's daughter. Her best friend is Harriet and they are inseparable. As they grow up however their different characteristics begin to emerge from the time they were very young teenagers and this is what adds depth to the story.

Trying to keep their relationship the way it was when they were just young children is not easy. Each has begun to have secrets not very willing to impart it to the other one and as Harriet matures earlier and begins to have an impact on a man in their community, her parents pack her off to Melbourne. She comes back and the relationship with Kate starts again - albeit on a different level. A tragedy which occurs changes the lives of all the islanders forever. Anything else will be spoilers in this beautiful story.

The essence of the isolation of their life, the closeness of the two girls with no one else their own age, the understanding and compassion of their parents were all beautifully depicted in this very intriguing story of family, love and growing up. I also enjoyed the setting of rural isolated Australia in 1880s.

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

the mother's promise by Sally Hepworth




Living a quiet life Alice and her daughter Zoe seem to be dependant on each other. Zoe has social anxiety problems and Alice is fiercely protective of her. Unexpectedly facing critical illness Alice knows her days are numbered and she has to find solace and protection for Zoe who is going to be alone and ill equipped to face a world alone.

Leaning on two women who are practically strangers, one a nurse and one a social worker she tries to form a protective web for Zoe once she is gone. With no father figure and never having mentioned him, Zoe has no idea of who he is. Now Alice has to prepare Zoe for a time when she will be alone.

The story of families is one which the author seems to have a special knack for. Emotional, tense and uplifting the story is one of both betrayal, forgiveness and love.

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



Friday, August 4, 2017

Forgotten by Nicole Trope



A mother's worse nightmare. You just leave your toddler for five minutes, turn around and he is gone.  Malia was a dutiful, good mother. She was also seriously sleep deprived, exhausted and at the end of her tether with a husband who was just that in name. Ian did not care for the "looking after" part of kids and with two toddlers and a baby of five months Malia found the whole business of the family on her shoulders.

The parallel story of Ali from the Police who is assigned to the case is also very much part of the story. Having lost a child to SID she is also a mother to a toddler of eighteen months and is paranoid about Charlie. She has never been able to give him to anyone else to look after and having returned to work, Charlie is in a day care with hourly messages to Mum to update her on his status. Unusual day care indeed!

The twists and turns in a case like this where someone who is mentally ill and already a felon, decides to pick up Zach from his car seat and take him home. Jackie believes that having a ready made baby will make her ex husband return to her obsessive arms.  Tracking baby Zach is a nightmare as CCTV cameras around the shop are broken, no leads come up despite cross questioning of a series of people and the Police know that the longer the case lingers, the more remote the chances of Zach turning up alive.

Turn on to a home which is run by Robbie for felons out of prison and on parole and we have Edna who is worried over the residents of the home. Worried for her personal safety as well. It is Edna the oldest person in the entire scenario who realizes that things are not quite right with the latest resident and it is with this that a happy result ensues.

I was holding my breadth till the end. This was a good thriller and I am just glad that I got it no sooner I requested for it. It was a recommendation from a fellow blogger.

Thanks to Netgalley who sent this on to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain



This book brought together excellent elements - historical fiction, mystery and murder and so very surprisingly nice time travel! totally unexpected, fabulously interwoven into a tale of murder. Very cleverly done.

Kendra works at Quantico in present times. Through a phase of the moon and being in a specific spot at a specific time, she is inadvertently thrown back in time to 1815 to the Duke of Aldridge's castle. Fortunately for her the Duke himself was a man of science and though skeptical, and unbelieving he was willing to listen to Kendra and to what had transpired. He couldn't quite figure things out but he was at least a willing listener! In 1815 most people would have had Kendra burnt at the stake for being a witch if they knew what had happened.

Thrown headlong into a murder investigation (her second) the Duke's own nephew is the prime suspect in the murder of a lady. To clear his name and to help the Duke, Kendra is seconded for service. She has to play a low key in the investigation as women are expected not to even glimpse a dead body, let alone a gruesomely murdered one like the current investigation.
Without modern forensic methods Kendra has to depend on common sense and a series of deductions to catch the murderer.

The bit of romance thrown in adds to the spin of the story and all together it is a very interesting book. I liked all the characters each very different to each other and all trying to get to grips with the very modern woman in their midst!

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