One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica de Rosa #FridayReads #BookReview

Rivalries and romance in a Tuscan paradise. A relaxing writers’ retreat? If only! Perfect holiday reading from Domenica de Rosa, author of the bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series under the name Elly Griffiths. Previously published as SUMMER SCHOOL.

My Review

I chose this novel because it looked like a light, entertaining read in an exciting location at a time when we cannot travel. It certainly is a delightful read with glorious descriptions of Tuscany and feel-good romance but it more than that. A group of budding writers, who have yet to publish a book, visit a lovely castle, complete with its own ghost story, where they will be tutored by a successful author (currently resting!) while dining in style and visiting the important towns of the area.

We sympathise with English owner, Patricia, abandoned by her husband five years previously and struggling to pay the bills for staff and maintenance, as she makes her guests welcome and responds to their every need. Reading the diaries, emails and creative writing tasks of the guests helps us to know them intimately and it is this clear characterisation which made me engage with the plot so quickly. I soon fell for the charms of superb chef, Aldo and who could resist reading about the handsome handyman, Fabio, as he frolics in the swimming pool.

Amongst the guests are friends Cat and Anna, young mothers who are close friends, but where Anna gives loyalty, Cat uses her friend as a foil for her own beauty and success. Frenchman JP antagonises Patricia, even before he arrives, by his refusal to drink Italian wine, but gradually she finds that he has hidden depths. I couldn’t help identifying with aging spinster, Mary, although I don’t share her circumstances and it is wonderful to see her blossom in this new environment. Despite their different backgrounds, the group begins to bond and they will be sad to part but they each go home changed by their experiences.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character driven novels with an eventful plot and a most satisfactory conclusion. It certainly kept me reading late into the night.

One Summer in Tuscany on Amazon UK

The Janus Stone: Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 2 by Elly Griffiths

A gruesome discovery at an old children’s home lays bare terrible secret’s from Norwich’s past in the second gripping mystery for Dr Ruth Galloway.

‘The setting is enticingly atmospheric . . . a really intelligent murder story’ Independent

Dr Ruth Galloway’s forensic skills are called upon when builders, demolishing an old house in Norwich, uncover the bones of a child – minus the skull – beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? Ruth links up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate.

The house was once a children’s home. Nelson traces the Catholic priest who used to run the place. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is desperate to put her off the scent by frightening her to death…

My Review

When a detective story begins with the discovery of the skeleton of a child beneath the floor of a former children’s home, the reader and the police instantly make assumptions of guilt, but this building site has also unearthed Roman remains so forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway has once more been consulted by DCI Harry Nelson.  Happy that she is still able to conceal her pregnancy she is eager to help but her assistance in dating the remains puts her in danger. Unpleasant gifts are left for her and she is attacked more than once.  Luckily, she has a team of protective guardians; Harry Nelson, the father of her child, Cathbad, the eccentric Druid leader and Lab technician, and newly arrived archaeologist, Max.

There is a complex plot involving the wealthy builder’s family, events at the Children’s home when two children disappeared and how Ruth deals with the prospect of single motherhood while dealing with the disapproval of her strongly religious parents.  Meanwhile Nelson’s Catholic upbringing makes facing up to his responsibilities as a married man and father of an illegitimate child very difficult and meeting a priest whom everyone trusts, in the course of his duties, adds to his confusion.

I enjoyed this volume even more than the first book in the series. Ruth has matured and her relationships with others shows deep understanding and empathy. There is a gradual build up of tension as she becomes increasingly threatened culminating in a thrilling concluding scene.

The Janus Stone on Amazon UK

My review of The Crossing Places The Ruth Galloway Mysteries Book 1

Daria’s Daughter by Linda Huber #FridayBookShare

A mother and daughter torn apart

An explosive accident on the way to Glasgow airport leaves Daria hurt, bereaved and confused. Her daughter has vanished without a trace and nobody is telling her what happened. Evie’s gone. That’s all. Gone. What does Daria have left to live for?

A mother and daughter reunited

Margie can’t believe it. Bridie is hurt. Bridie needs her. They manage to escape the smoke, the noise and the confusion. They are together, that’s all that matters. Everything will be better in the morning, Margie tells Bridie. And it will.

The bonds that never break

Will Daria ever be able to put the pieces of her tattered life back together after the loss of her daughter? Is it possible that things aren’t quite as they seem? Can the unimaginable turn out to be the truth?

My Review

This is the story of three mothers, all of whom love their daughters dearly. Leane’s daughter, Frith, no longer needs hospital appointments but she is anxious to spend more time with her. For Daria, Evie is her world, since her husband, Noah, is frequently away on business. And Margie lives in the past, remembering how little Bridie loved to play on the beach in Ireland. But during a period of just over a month all their worlds are turned upside down. There is an horrific accident with life changing repercussions for all of them.

Linda Huber writes convincingly of these three very different women and we share and understand their problems. The children, Frith and Bridie are delightfully uncomplicated, united in their affection for Margie’s tribe of cats, they trust the adults in their lives to take care of them. There is increasing tension as the reader knows more than any of the characters.  Longing for a happy solution, our hopes are constantly dashed but in the thrilling concluding chapters there is a satisfactory denouement.

This was a book I found so difficult to put down. They are real people struggling with the complications of modern life in a city, not realising the problems of others living close to them but love and kindness eventually pulls them out of despair. A very worthwhile read.

Daria’s Daughter by Linda Huber on Amazon UK

My Review of The Runaway by Linda Huber

Bound by Silver (Razor’s Edge Chronicles #2) by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease

I’m still only a barber to the supernatural, and I still have super weak magic, but I’ve somehow been tasked with essentially saving the world.

Yeah, I know. And if I don’t deliver, it’s my neck on the line.

So far, it’s not going too well. In fact, it’s not going at all, frankly. I have no idea where to start, no power to make anything happen, and yes, Tim the cat continues to be a sarcastic pain in the ass that’s no help whatsoever.

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, there’s also a weird, recent increase in human suicides that definitely feels like it’s linked to something magical.

And then to top it all off, a Mundane holding an amulet manages to enter the barbershop, which should be impossible, given all the spells in place to keep them out.

I’m going to need to figure out what’s going on pretty damn quick before the Mayaks decide I’m not up to the job and get rid of me. I’m up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle.

Grab “Bound by Silver” to find out if I manage to produce that pesky paddle and live to shave another day.

My Review

This book continues the story of Apiya who lives in the island city of Panyong where Mundanes like you and me are unaware of the other residents, those who have magical powers, the Mayaks. Apriya stands between those two worlds. She is familiar with both but is different because she has been “touched” with a little magic. This is why she has been given the task of preventing war between the Mundanes and the Mayaks.  Luckily, she has the assistance of the fascinating Sarroch, a Mayak whom she has only seen shifted into the body of a handsome Mundane.

While trying to work out how to carry out her mission, Apiya notices another problem. Several young Mundanes have committed suicide for no reason and she senses the presence of something supernatural which is not a Mayak.  Soon she is entangled in extreme danger and no-one is going to help her. Apriya is coming of age, learning to rely on her own abilities and to protect those who are vulnerable.

The gripping story of this brave young woman also includes an intriguing question. Where did she come from and how is she able to solve problems so effectively?  I was very disappointed that the story suddenly ends just when she is about to follow up a lead about her past but of course that means I will need to read the third volume of the Razor’s Edge Chronicles.

Bound by Silver on Amazon UK

Touched by Magic the first book in the Razor’s Edge Chronicles reviewed here

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