Book Review: Death in the Covenant (3.5 stars)

I am proud to be a Ten Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

Not only that but I’m a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer

AND I’m aTop Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

Anyway…I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is

The Net Galley blurb reads: The growth of the Mormon Church has slowed. Young men are abandoning the Church, leaving their female counterparts unmarried and childless. Now, the Church is about to lose one more member…and it may be due to murder.

Detective Abish “Abbie” Taylor returned to the mountain town of Pleasant View, Utah, hoping for a quiet life. But that hope dissipates like a dream when she wakes to an unsettling phone call. Arriving at the scene of a fatal car accident, she discovers that the victim was one of the most beloved leaders of the Church—and an old family friend.

Abbie is skeptical when her father insists someone murdered his friend, but in an attempt to patch up their relationship, she takes a few days off from her job as the sole detective in the police department, and heads to the Colonia Juárez, a former LDS colony in Mexico. There, she uncovers a plan to “seal” young women to church leaders in temple ceremonies, so the women can give birth and the children can be adopted by Mormon families in the United States. But Abbie knows too well that bringing secrets to light can be deadly. Is that why her father’s friend died?

When she returns to the States, some members of the LDS community certainly don’t seem happy that Abbie knows what she knows. Abbie realizes with a jolt that her investigation could cost her father his job. Who is the murderous mastermind of this secret plot? Is it Port, the Second Counselor to the President of the Church? Bowen, the charismatic Church spokesperson? Does the “accident” victim’s widow know more than she’s told police? Time is running out for Abbie to save her father’s job—and her own life—as dark forces close in, and the outlook for Pleasant View turns decidedly unpleasant.  

I know practically nothing about the Church of LDS, so I found this an interesting read on that account alone – finally, I was left feeling baffled about why anyone should be a Mormon, but then I suppose there are many people who say that about Christians!

The story was a fairly straightforward, reasonably well told mystery: it wasn’t exactly a who-dunnit, but there were murders to solve. I wasn’t really surprised by the ending, but it wasn’t flagged right from the start!  The characters were well described, and believable; I liked the people I was supposed to like, and didn’t find the bad guys too “pantomime villain” like. There was a satisfying feeling of Abbie being pulled in two directions, and feeling the weight of her adolescent faith still on her shoulders; it wasn’t an easy dénoument for her.

Perhaps there had to be a slight suspension of disbelief to credit well-educated young women with making the decisions that they did, but I can understand how a belief system followed from childhood, and involving the entire family, can mean that certain paths seem to be the right way, however illogical it may seem to outsiders.

This is a book wavering between 3.5 and 4 stars for me. It’s not quite as good as others that I’ve given four stars to, but better than some 3.5 star books! I’ll give it 4 stars on Net Galley, as they don’t show “half stars”, and I don’t want to mark it down!

Pleasant View, Utah, the setting for the book.

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Book Review: The Beantown Girls ***(and a half)

Yes!Another one!! But after this I will have done my duty and reviewed the books sent by Net Galley. Like most of the books I review on my blog I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review. So, here it is:

 

The blurb says:

It began slowly, and I wasn’t engaged by the characters. At all. They didn’t seem very believable and I found them rather annoying. But, I continued, as I felt obliged to do, and finally found the story drew me in. I wasn’t totally convinced by the descriptions of the English countryside, and although this is based on real life characters and true events, I find the idea of unlimited doughnuts and coffee during rationing to be a bit odd. I know the US troops had access to food and other supplies that the British were denied but all the same…However, a quick google tells me how wrong I am, as the picture below shows.

Generally I ended up enjoying the book more than I had expected at the beginning, and while I wouldn’t rave about it, as many reviewers have, I think it deserves a three-and-a-half stars. Which is down graded to three stars for NetGalley, as they don’t do half stars.

There’ll be no more book reviews for a while. Sorry there was such a sudden glut of them now!! I’ve just started to read Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series again. I didn’t enjoy the last few but thought I’d start the series over again and see how I get on!

Book Review: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes *****

I’m sorry if you’re not interested in book reviews – I need to catch up on my reviewing commitments. I received an e-copy of this book free from Net Galley in return for an honest review. And so, here it is!

The Net Galley description reads: Ruth Hogan, the international bestselling author behind the The Keeper of Lost Things returns with an irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances—and dark secrets…

They say friends make life worth living…

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life was forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s swimming pool. Almost without her realizing it, her life has shuddered to a halt.

It’s only when Masha begins an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice and a penchant for saying just what she means, that a new world of possibilities opens up: new friendships, new opportunities, and even a chance for new love. For the first time in years, Masha has the chance to start living again.

But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back…

Like her beloved debut, The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan’s second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who lead us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that unite us all.  

I enjoyed “The Keeper of Lost Things” very much, and so was looking forward to reading this. It was highly enjoyable and I would happily recommend this. However, I need to admit that I read it at least two months ago, so can’t remember that much about it!! This is what I do recall:

Even though there was a slight sense of trying a bit too hard to have whimsical characters, all of the people delineated were believable and likeable. It gives a moving portrayal of how grief and guilt can stall a person’s life, and how friendship can help to finally bring a person out of the darkness. The themes of death and grieving are well handled, as is the idea of the importance of friendship.

The ending was satisfying. Not what was expected, a bit hard to read, but yes, satisfying.

I’m sorry this isn’t a better review, but I know that this was a five star book. That doesn’t happen very often.

Book Review: The Good Priest

Oh, oh – I’m sorry, NetGalley!! I have been neglecting my duties! I have read books but completely forgotten to review them, as I’ve been busy with 40 Acts. So here is a catch up review on one of the books:

The Net Galley description reads:

Book Review: The Way Back ****

I haven’t done a book reveiw for SO long, and I feel rather guilty, as I have three books languishing on my “NetGalley” shelf. Since going back to work I’ve had a lot less me time, and so a lot less reading time. I read a few pages ain bed and then drop off to sleep! I also have had a few problems with my Kindle – all solved now.

So, here is my latest review; I was sent this book free-of-charge (yay!), by NetGalley, in return for an honest review:

THE WAY BACK

by Bill Whiting

I had read “Rosie” by Bill Whiting, and enjoyed it – an easy read about how a dog helped one man find his way back from grief at the loss of his wife. Well, this book has very similar themes…

The NetGalley description reads: After losing his home and savings to his lying son, widower Robin Bentley has a breakdown and is consigned to a care home for the elderly. He’s deeply depressed and has lost himself. As his health improves, he feels imprisoned and decides he must escape. 

Book Review: Postcards from a Stranger ****

I am proud to be a Ten Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is (It’s been hanging around meaning to be posted for quite a while!):

The Net Galley synopsis says:

A secret lies buried at the heart of her family—but it can’t stay hidden forever.

When Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic, their contents make her question everything she thought she knew.

The story she pieces together is confusing and unsettling, and appears to have been patched over with lies. But who can tell her the truth? With her father sinking into Alzheimer’s and her brother reluctant to help, it seems Cara will never find the answers to her questions. One thing is clear, though: someone knows more than they’re letting on.

Torn between loyalty to her family and dread of what she might find, Cara digs into the early years of her parents’ troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery. But the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she’d expected—because as she soon discovers, lies have a habit of multiplying . . .

I enjoyed the book – the mystery at the heart of the story was interesting, and I found myself rooting for Cara from the very beginning, although I did feel she let her brother get away with rather too much!

The story centres around Cara who is caring for her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and through a random discovery, she starts to find out that the story she had been told about her mother’s death is not true. She then begins a journey of discovery, trying to unravel the truth from lies, and she uncovers things that perhaps she would rather not have known, about her family, and her childhood.

The characters were engaging, well-written, and believable; the story itself was gripping, and poignant. I would definitely recommend this book. Four stars.

Book Review: Connectedness ****

I am proud to be a Ten Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review. I haven’t been reading so many books recently – there was a period in my recovery when I was romping through them, but it’s slowed down. I read a few pages in bed, but not much. I finished this book about three weeks ago, though, and since then I’ve struggled to get into anything. But, here’s the review.

The Net Galley site says:

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALWAYS HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

I have to say that although I enjoyed this book, it took me a long time to read it.  I’m not sure why. I suppose it was that this wasn’t exactly gripping – that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable, or well written; I just didn’t feel inclined to race through it.

The description above sums up the plot well, and I certainly felt for Justine, both in her present day situation, and in her messy student life, with the predicament of an unplanned pregnancy. The character of Rose was also engaging , and it was interesting to see how her situation compared to Justine’s, and how this affected her dealings with the artist. Certainly all the characters were believable, the descriptions were good and I was involved in the recounting of the story. It just didn’t totally enthrall me – but, having said that, I was interested enough to want to finish the book, unlike others I have had from Net Galley!!

I give this 4 stars. I was going to give it three, but I think I was being unfair. It wasn’t the book’s fault that I wasn’t in a reading mood….

Picasso’s house, in Malaga, which features in the book.

PS This isn’t the “lost post” from yesterday, but one that I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time!!