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Showing posts from July, 2016

Everything Love Is by Claire King

In the dramatic beginning of this book, a young mother gives birth on a train and suddenly dies. No one knows who she is.  Her son, Baptiste, is adopted by the childless woman who tries to help his mother, and yearns for his mother and his true identity.

Many years afterwards, Baptiste lives a lovely life on a houseboat in France, where he counsels people and plays the piano.  He has great insight into other people's problems and he loves his work, but love remains elusive. Can Baptiste manage to find true love with the one woman who understands him?

This is a beautifully written and utterly charming book, but I did find it a little bit confusing with its flashbacks and tendency to jump between characters and situations.  Also, it was all written in lower-case which was hard to get used to, but it was a moving love story and I'll certainly be reading much more of the wonderful Claire King!

I received this free ebook published by Bloomsbury from Net Galley in return for an hone…

The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp

(A nutmeg tree, Wikimedia Commons)

Julia sings in the bath even though her furniture is being taken away, the bailiffs are at the door, and she is an out-of-work and aging actress! However, she does have some happy news.  Her daughter Susan, who has been raised by her proper upper middle-class grandparents, is about to get married and she needs her.  Julia rushes off to a beautiful country house in France only to find that her daughter is a prig and she recognizes a kindred spirit in twinkling-eyed Bryan, her daughter's fiancée.
They are not suited at all! What is Julia going to do? The arrival of Sir William, Susan's guardian, also puts a spanner in the works...

I could hardly put this fast-moving novel down with its charming heroine and her amusing adventures, its descriptions of the gorgeous French scenery, and its sweet love stories.  I was sad to finish it! More of the wonderful Margery Sharp, please.

I received this free eBook from Open Road Integrated Media via Net Gal…

A Hero of France by Alan Furst

In the midst of occupied France, Mathieu helps Allied airmen escape. He is assisted by many people, including young Lisette who delivers messages by bicycle and beautiful and aristocratic Anne Marie, but when he is offered several thousands of dollars, he has to decide who he can trust... He must also keep away from Major Broehm who is sent to France to destroy the escape networks.

Kind-hearted and funny Mathieu is a likeable character and this is an atmospheric and enjoyable novel.  However, I prefer some of the other novels of Alan Furst, such as The Spies of Warsaw with its noble hero.  I found this one a little bit too much like an airport novel at times and it had some unnecessarily sordid scenes, I thought.  I look forward to his next book, though!

I received this free eBook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

The Eternal Party by Kristina Hagman and Elizabeth Kaye

When Larry Hagman was on his deathbed, he asked his daughter Kristina to forgive him.  He didn’t say the reasons, so she decided to go on a journey back in time to find out.  This is her story… Was it because of his several affairs?  After he died, former mistresses would tell Kristina how much Hagman meant to them which Kristina, unsurprisingly, found quite insensitive.  He had a long and very happy marriage, however. He even tried to care for his Swedish designer wife by himself when she got Alzheimer’s.
Was it because he was often drunk or on drugs, mostly marijuana?  People who grew up watching Hagman as the straight-laced Tony in ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’ will find this book, especially this part of it disillusioning.  Apparently, Hagman was really a somewhat left-wing hippie who searched for enlightenment, even taking LSD. 
Was it because Kristina’s parents were loving, but quite negligent with her care?  Although Hagman’s family spent a lot of time outdoors (he loved hunting and fi…

Murder on the Quai by Cara Black

Quai in Paris, Wikipedia
This clever detective story by Cara Black will keep you turning the page until the very last minute!
At the beginning, Aimee, the young daughter of a detective, is struggling with her medical degree and upset with her handsome boyfriend who has left her for another woman.  She is also angry with her father who has disappeared and left her to run an errand to help a cousin Elise, whose father has been murdered.
Aimee becomes more and more involved in the search for the killer, which involves her in a lot of dangerous journeys through seamy parts of Paris.  When other men are murdered in similar ways, Aimee starts to wonder about a connection.  Does it have anything to do with the war and the Resistance?
I really enjoyed this exciting tale. Aimee is a very likeable, brave and well-rounded character and the atmosphere of 1989 Paris is so vivid that I felt that I was travelling through its famous streets with her.  She is even amusing at times.
There were a few f…

Moggerhanger by Alan Sillitoe

The EPUB seemed to have a lot of mistakes, but I don't think that this is my kind of book, anyway. I will try reading it on Kindle. I like Alan Sillitoe's account of his travels in Europe, however.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Young Louise lives in a privileged and entrancing world in her family's town house and its country house, where she is surrounded by a beautiful English garden with lavender and honeysuckle,  Although she is the heroine, this first book of the Cazalet series also introduces her large family.  She has two uncles, Rupert with his selfish younger wife Zoe and Hugh with his cultured wife Sibyl and cousins, such as Clary.  This Downton Abbeyesque life of the family only really exists on the surface, however - there are lots of family secrets.  For example, Rachel, Louisa's spinster aunt is really a lesbian and Edward, Louisa's father is a philanderer.  Even though it is 1937, Rupert Brooke would fit into this upper-class existence easily, but the winds of change are about to affect the lotus-eating existence of the Cazalets...

This is the kind of novel that you can actually live in.  The Cazelets are so real that they begin to feel like the wealthy family nearby. This beautifu…

The More of Less. Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker  told his little son who was crying that he couldn't spend time with him until he'd finished clearing out his garage.  Then he realised that he was choosing his possessions over his son! This began his journey towards minimalism, a fantastically popular blog      and this book.  This is an excellent book to read for anyone who is interested in decluttering, but 'clutter people' will probably find it all extremely difficult.

There are several advantages of minimalism, according to Becker. These include 'more time, more money, less stress, less distraction' and 'more freedom'.  We often buy stuff in order to seek security, apparently.  It's better to do this by choosing 'loving relationships with other people' instead.  Also, if you spend less time buying things and decluttering, you have more time to achieve your dreams.
 Becker  provides a process to help people start decluttering, by assorting things into specific piles, label…

Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham

The wonderfully handsome Peter Davison as Albert Campion. (Wikipedia)

After Campion dramatically saves an old American judge from death on a cruise ship, his children engage his detective services.  Campion decides to arrange for the judge and his children to stay in an old Suffolk house near his country home so that he can protect him from the dangerous Simister gang.  This gang has already murdered all of the judge's servants!  The poor judge's troubles continue in the eerie Suffolk countryside.  Soon after he arrives, an old minister commits suicide,  and other mysterious events start occurring.

Albert Campion is a disarming detective with a liking for frivolity and a pet jackdaw called Autolycus.  The other characters are not nearly as interesting but the intricacies of the tension-filled plot and the spooky descriptions of Suffolk make up for this.  It is an extremely English vintage detective story in which the characters live in luxury, no one worries about money too m…