The Quiet Side of Paradise by Alexander Mccall Smith #FridayReads #BookReview

Quiet Side

I have read most, though not all, of the Isabel Dalhousie books by Alexander McCall Smith.  Isabel is a philosopher living in a beautiful Georgian house in Edinburgh she had inherited from her father.  She is Editor of the Review of Applied Ethics – which addresses such questions as ‘Truth telling in sexual relationships’ and is married to Jamie, a younger man who is “heart-meltingly decent” and “knee-weakeningly dishy” bassoonist.  Jamie was originally the boyfriend of her niece, Cat, which has caused problems, but that does not stop Cat frequently asking Isabel to help out at her delicatessen shop.  Jamie and Isabel have two young sons, toddler Magnus and Charlie who goes to nursery. Luckily, she has sensible, forthright, Grace as housekeeper to help her with her busy life, but she and Jamie decide to employ, Antonia, a vivacious Italian au pair. She is also able to hire Claire, a young Philosophy PhD student, to help her with the Review.

But Isabel seeks out problems to solve. Charlie’s nursery friend Basil has a rather abrasive mother Patricia who begins to take advantage of her, and she decides to investigate Basil’s paternity.  In the most eventful section of the story, Isabel follows a suspicious individual into a dangerous part of the city and narrowly avoids attack. Meanwhile Antonia’s night-time activities cause worry and Claire allows the despicable Professor Lettuce into Isabel’s house.  Through it all there is the close loving relationship between Isabel and Jamie and her innate goodness and willingness to help others. These stories describe a world unfamiliar to the average reader, but the relaxing charm and the philosophical questions considered make them very appealing, at least to me.

The Quiet Side of Passion on Amazon Uk

My Review of The Peppermint Tea Chronicles

McCall

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful ‘No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards – Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

 

A Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys #FridayReads #BookReview

A STUNNING, ATMOSPHERIC NOVEL SET IN 1940S SOUTH OF FRANCE. YOUR PERFECT ESCAPIST READ

Fatal inheritance

Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the decadence of the Côte d’Azur.

My Review

An unusual choice of era for a recently written novel, 1948 was a grey, boring time with shortages and no excitement, but for Eve Forrester, a London housewife trapped in a loveless marriage, there is the promise of a short escape. She receives a solicitor’s letter from the south of France, telling her of an inheritance from an unknown stranger. For once, she stands up to her husband, Clifford and sets out alone for Cannes.  Meeting the Collets, a kindly couple, on the train, gives her confidence to face the animosity she meets on the Riviera, from the Lester family, who share her inheritance of Villa La Perle.

Enchanted by the villa, Eve is also unnerved by a feeling that she is under threat. She soon makes friends with American writer Stanley Sullivan and glamorous film star, Gloria Hayes, but the Lester family seem determined to undermine her. Who was Guy Lester and in what way was she connected to him? The beautiful scenery and the rich and famous people are a world away from her unhappy relationships with her husband and her mother.  Eve is reluctant to return to her old life, but Clifford has plans for the money she will receive when the Villa is sold.

As Eve is increasingly threatened by an unknown enemy in France, she must discover from her unresponsive mother what secret lies in their past.  An unusual plot with a brave, determined heroine and complex characters enriches the narrative of this compelling story.

A Fatal Inheritance on Amazon UK

 

Alice Teale is Missing by H A Linskey #TuesdayBookBlog #Thriller

Alice

Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

She’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But soon it’s clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.

Then the police receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

I chose this book on the recommendation of  Jill’s Book Cafe

My Review 

DC Beth Winter & DS Lucas Black have a case to solve. They have only just met in a bleak Northumbrian town and they are trying to establish a working relationship, or at least Beth is. The disappearance of a bright, popular 17-year-old doesn’t seem to be causing much concern amongst the other police officers. They think she has run away but Beth and DS Black believe she is either dead or in serious trouble. When pages from her secret journal start being delivered, they learn more but are they being led along the wrong path?

I very much enjoyed reading how Beth dealt with her unfriendly boss and how she gradually began to understand him. They both live alone but are from different generations and backgrounds. What they have in common is the desire to find Alice and solve the case. There are several suspects and an interesting setting in the small town surrounding a large comprehensive school. The concerns of the teenagers and the more selfish approach of some of the adults is typical of any town in Britain. The geography and location of their investigations are clearly described which is necessary for the plot and the events thrilling and unexpected. I shall certainly be looking out for other novels by this author.

Howard

www.howardlinskey.co.uk

Howard Linskey is a best-selling author of crime and historical fiction published in seven countries. His debut novel ‘The Drop’ was voted one of the Top Five Thrillers of the Year by the Times newspaper and ‘The Damage’ was voted one of its top summer reads. His David Blake series was optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron.

Howard writes a series of north-east set, crime fiction novels for Penguin Random House featuring investigative journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton, as well as Detective Sergeant Ian Bradshaw.

His historical novels are set in WW2. ‘Hunting the Hangman’ tells the story of the assassination of Nazi general and architect of the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ follows SOE agent Harry Walsh into occupied France.

Originally from the north east of England, Howard now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

Alice Teale is Missing on Amazon UK

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkard #RegencyRomance #RBRT

Tavistock

Young Miss Tavistock is promised in marriage to Captain Rempeare by the wish of her dearly departed papa. But the captain’s been at sea for a decade. When she finally meets him, tempestuous sparks fly, and she impulsively adopts a daring false identity. Going by “Lady X,” she vows never to marry such an infuriating man.

Captain Gabriel Rempeare is prepared to fulfill his duty and marry Miss Tavistock—if only he can clap eyes on her. One circumstance or another keeps them apart, though he cannot seem to avoid the beautiful, maddening, Lady X. When fate throws them together in London, Miss Tavistock discovers the real nature of the captain, and regrets her subterfuge. But can such a noble man forgive deceit? Or has her mistake already cost her everything?

My Review

Feodora Tavistock is an exuberant heroine, who despite living as a ward of the aging Duke of Trent on a remote estate, shows enthusiasm for whatever life offers. When Mrs Filbert arrives as companion to the 19-year-old girl, she embraces her as friend despite the fact that she is middle aged.  One day life for Feodora (or Margaret as she prefers to be called) will change, for she is betrothed to her cousin Gabriel who showed her great kindness when she was first orphaned ten years earlier. But Gabriel Rampeare has spent most of the intervening years in the navy and he has scarcely written to her at all.

With Mrs Filbert’s collusion Margaret persuades her guardian to allow her to join the London Season so that she can enjoy one summer of balls, parties and frivolous gowns before her marriage. In the meantime, Gabriel and Margaret meet under unfortunate circumstances, not recognising each other and his behaviour is so despicable she determines to refuse the marriage.  Unfortunately, they are thrown together in London although Captain Rempeare believes she is “Lady X” the Inamorata of his elderly uncle.  The secrets, lies and misunderstanding are a perfect basis for an amusing, exciting plot.

For me, Captain Gabriel Rempeare is the perfect hero. A career sailor he misses the sea, but intends to do his duty by his betrothed, yet he is hampered by the necessity to cover the debts and appalling behaviour of his brother. Miss Tavistock lacks experience of life so makes foolish mistakes and is prepared to give up her chance of happiness rather than confess her falsehoods to Gabriel.

The author knows the era very well. Her descriptions of the ballroom with its chalked floor, of the sumptuous dinners provided and the extravagant fete at Carlton House are filled with authentic detail and her account of naval battles in the early 19th century, ring true. My only complaint would be the rather sudden ending when I would have liked a little longer to enjoy the inevitable conclusion.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake on Amazon UK

Linore

Linore Rose Burkard ( L.R.Burkard) is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., “Three French Hens”). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

Death of a Cuckoo: An Esme Quentin Short Read by Wendy Percival #BookReview #Mystery #AncestryHour

Death of a cuckoo

A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.

My Review

I really enjoyed the three books Wendy Percival has written about courageous genealogist, Esme Quentin, so I welcomed the chance to read this “short read” where we see Esme through the eyes of a young client, Gina Vincent. After the sudden death of her mother, Gina is sorting through her mail when she discovers shocking news about her own birth.  When an intruder attempts to search her mother’s documents, Gina seeks Esme’s help. The two women visit Gina’s birthplace, a remote empty property on Exmoor, and begin to research its past.

The story explores painful episodes from our recent past and I was on the edge of my seat as each woman risked danger. The family history investigation particularly interests me but there is plenty of mystery and adventure for the enjoyment of any reader.

In addition, I also read a free short read from Wendy’s website

https://www.wendypercival.co.uk/legacy-of-guilt-sign-up

Legacy of Guilt takes us back to the time when Esme returned to live in Shropshire and considered becoming a genealogical investigator.  Unexpectedly bumping into her long-lost cousin Joanna, she is determined to help restore her to her inheritance. Discovering a family connection to the sudden death of a young woman in 1835, the two women draw the attention of an unsavoury character who threatens them.  Another great read!

My review of The Indelible Stain by Wendy Percival and The Malice of Angels

 

 

The Extraordinary Book of Doors by Anne E G Nydam #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

Turn the page… Open the door… Enter the adventure…

book of books

 

When worrywart Chen Connelly finds a mysterious antique book beneath a park bench, his safe but lonely summer suddenly becomes exciting. Perhaps a little too exciting. A book of renaissance architectural designs may not seem very exciting, until Chen finds himself traveling through the pages of the magical book with Polly Goggin, the weirdest girl he’s ever met, as they race to solve a treasure hunt left by Benjamin Franklin, struggle to find their way through a maze of mysterious doors, and dodge far too many angry security guards. It doesn’t help that a murderous, strangely nondescript magician-thief is on their trail with a magic book of his own, willing to do whatever it takes to get his hands on Benjamin Franklin’s treasure and all three extraordinary books.It begins with a book. Where will it lead?

I discovered Anne Nydam during the A to Z Challenge. The theme for her blogs was traditional English language nursery rhymes, and their block printed illustrations. Discovering that we shared an interest in books and doors I had to read this delightful children’s book.

The heroes of this story are Chen Connolly, the adopted son of the curators of Cleveland museum of Art and Polly Goggin, the eccentric 13-year-old daughter of Miranda, owner of Goggin Antiques and Auctioneers. The two meet via the pages of copies of the sixteenth century book of doors. Each embossed leather book has a gold key on the spine which turns in the block printed doors on the pages. Once unlocked, Chen and Polly (and sometimes her cat, Uber) can pass through the doors into buildings spread about the globe. At first, they are unwilling companions but finding themselves threatened by Ammon Blank, a dangerous magician thief, they use their intelligence and bravery and the help of two others to stop Mr Blank’s robberies and to return the books to their rightful owners.

I was particularly interested in the connection made during the book to Benjamin Franklin. Not being American I knew very little about him, but I was prompted to briefly research his life which proved fascinating.  I would highly recommend this book to middle years young adults and people like me who love a good adventure story with a touch of magic.

Book2

The Extraordinary Book of Doors on Amazon UK

Anne E G Nydam

 Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to be a writer…  I was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  I loved it there.  In college at Yale I majored in linguistics, with a thesis at the intersection between historical and sociolinguistics.  I loved Yale and I loved linguistics.  After graduation, for reasons relating more to the desperation of a school’s staffing needs than my qualifications, I got a job teaching middle school art.  I loved teaching.  (Are you noticing a theme here?  It continues.)  Teaching art was how I became, de facto, an artist myself.  Along the way I got married, and when our children were born I became a stay-at-home mother, and realized that since I could no longer call myself a teacher, I had better make sure I could still call myself an artist and a writer.  And here I am, calling myself an artist and a writer, despite being essentially self-taught, primarily self-published, and inclined to be self-effacing. My other hobbies include gardening, playing cello, quilt-making, and failing to do housework.  Except when feeling grouchy, I love it all… And she lived happily ever after.)

https://nydamprintsblackandwhite.blogspot.com/p/curious-about-my-art-books.html

Somerville’s War by Andrew Duncan #RBRT #BookReview

Thrilling wartime adventure and a sensitive story of relationships

Somerville's War

The strange brigadier who hardly speaks… Leo, his feisty pilot daughter… Labrador, the vengeful Pole… Henry Dunning-Green, Leo’s boring suitor… Adrian Russell, the treacherous master spy… … All linked by SOE Somerville, the top secret Second World War finishing school for spies on England’s south coast, and its local community: A melting pot of intrigue and counter-intrigue. A fast-unfolding, untold tale of deception, betrayal and romance leading to a tense life-or-death climax in occupied France. Many of the events actually took place. This is the first fictional treatment of life at the famous Special Operations Executive ‘finishing school’ for spies, SOE Beaulieu in the New Forest (renamed SOE Somerville). It’s also the first fully realised fictional portrait of master spy and traitor Kim Philby (renamed Adrian Russell) who lectured at SOE Beaulieu.

My Review

As a child I was fascinated by the tales my parents told of their time in the services in Europe during the war and moreover, stories about the Resistance or SOE have always interested me, so I opened this book with excitement.  Beginning in August 1940, we witness the last race of Somer River Sailing Club.  Through the eyes of trainee Polish spy “Labrador” we watch Leonora win the race and receive a kiss from her father, Brig, who is Captain of the club.  Soon we are immersed in the upper-class life of Somerville with its established pecking order of aristocrats who have known each other for most of their lives. Yet close by, young men are training for undercover action in France and Leo cannot wait to join the ATA where she will pilot planes from one British aerodrome to another, so that male pilots can take them into action.

But unknown to the local community “Brig”, the Brigadier, plays a major role in coordinating the training of undercover agents at Woodland house, hidden in the woods at Somerville. Soon, Henry, long-time friend of Leo, and her potential suitor, will also be trained alongside Labrador. The action will move to Normandy and the young men will be in great danger.

This is a study of the changes in everyday life brought about by wartime, but it is also a thrilling tale of heroism and a slow-burning love story.  Leo’s spontaneous character is easy to identify with, but I also began to understand the taciturn Brig who did his duty for his country and dearly loved his family. A beautifully written novel, revealing many fascinating details about flying Spitfires, conducting undercover warfare and dealing with betrayal in the best possible way.

I was given a copy of this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team in return for an unbiased review.

Somerville’s War can be found on Amazon UK