The Girl from the Sugar Plantation by Sharon Maas

About the Book:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation: A gripping and emotional family saga of love and secrets (The Quint Chronicles)

An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
1934, Georgetown.

All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets .

My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a gripping and compelling read, where fact meet fiction and a wonderful story arises.

The plot is based on factual events, on the sugar plantations in Guyana and the life of the people at the time. Many of the characters are also real people, who made a difference or had an impact on the lives of people. The story is well written and brings out the emotions of the people in the story. It will draw you in and keep you hooked until the very end.

The reader has the pleasure of meeting Mary Grace, a strong willed girl who learns to believe that there is more to life than the one she leads on the sugar plantation. As the story progresses, we see her grow and blossom into a wonderful woman with a burning passion for life. We are exposed to the brutality of life, the concept of slaves and workers, the upper class society and a certain level of superiority based on color of the skin.  The author exposes us to the shocking truth and mindset of the people, and the ideas behind revolutions and changes. Jock is a strongly described character with an interesting mindset and a set goal in life. He is willing to sacrifice love for his goal.

The supporting characters in Mary Grace’s mother, her aunt, her cousins and the secrets they hold only seek to expose us to the reality of life and the people. The strength and unity, the confidence and pride they have for and in each other is inspiring. The impact of the Second World War on the world and lives of people is portrayed really well and it is sure that the reader will be able to experience an array of emotions.

The choices a person makes at different stages in life shapes their life and this is seen clearly through the decisions of the people in the book. This story will stay with you until the end and after, leaving behind a deeper impact and food for thought.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife – An intriguing story of two women!

About the Book:

The Silk Weaver's Wife

‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

A gorgeously written, richly evocative story, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is perfect for readers who love Kate Morton and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

The Silk Weavers Wife is a well-written story, set in Italy and which tells of two tales set almost three centuries apart. The story revolves around 2 women, Anastasia and Millie, both strong and well crafted characters, who prove to be an inspiration for all.

Anastasia is brought up to be respectful, proper and do as her father says. Along with her younger sister and mother, they live in constant fear of her Father’s moods and hate. He only ever seems to show his love to his dog and the horses. Anastasia develops an interest in art and secretly tries to pursue the same. When she is taken away from the man she loves and is forced to marry someone her father had made a deal with through his gambling, her life takes a turn for the worse. Forced to lead a life she doesn’t want, she finds solace in her maid, who helps her find a way to escape the abuse and eventually find her way back to the man she loves. However, even this road is not smooth and is filled with learning and a journey of self-discovery, as well as healing. Anastasia travels across Europe and then to London where she learns to improve her art and then to apply it to the finished product of silk weaving.

Jump ahead to the current day scenario and we meet Millie who has come down to Italy to write a feature on Silk Weaving and how it has evolved over time. Ironically, this trip also proves to be one of self-discovery and developing a sense of respect of oneself. She develops a bond with Lorenzo, the owner of the villa where she is staying and his charming daughter. Millie learns to deal with her failed relationship with her boss, a married man, and as she researches more into the subject of her article, she digs up information pertaining to Anastasia.

As connections are made with the past and parallels are drawn, the author takes the reader on an interesting adventure. In many ways, the journey of the silk worm relates to the journeys led by both women they they finally discover who they are meant to be and learn to be content with their lives. The story moves across time as it unravels, going back and forth to give us a complete picture. The characters are well developed and deep, with the supporting characters playing major roles and contributing to this beautiful tale.

An inspiration, this story brings out the strength of women and how the love and support of those around them, helps them achieve wonders!

 

Book Review: Fraternity of Fractures by Mark Pannebecker

About the Book:

Fraternity of Fractures

Justin Sunder and Phoenix are master cat burglars and best friends until Dylan Panicosky enters their circle of hedonism and crime. Set in the blighted city of St. Louis in the ‘80s, Fraternity of Fractures is a love triangle played out in an urban setting full of nocturnal adventures, drugs, sex, and danger, with all the players fractured in their own way.

My Thoughts:

This is a rather dark story that delves into the minds of people and shows us the ways of criminals. The author portrays crime as an art, describing it with great care and attention to detail.

Initially, it took me a while to get into the story as it was a little confusing. The style of writing is very different and the characters themselves, though clear about their lives are confusing. After a while, it became easier to settle into the story and follow the lives of the characters. There are a variety of character types in this story adding more color to the general mix and helping to setup the scenes.

One thing that stuck with me was the way the author played out the love triangle. It was masterfully crafted with a clear direction. The author does not beat around the bush and make it a messy affair. The focus on crime is the basis on which the rest of the plot is built and the turn of events eventually will give the reader the kind of closure that one can come to expect from this author’s style of writing.

An overall interesting experience, this story delivers what it set out to, with a mix of crime, romance and some dark humour thrown into the mix. It is from a rather different perspective having characters who are flawed just like we are, making it easy to relate to them and understand what makes them tick. Once you get used to the writing, and look past all the heavy description, the story is worth the read!

Book Review: My Evangeline by Heidi Radford Legg

About the Book:

My Evangeline by Heidi Radford Legg

When small town Acadian girl, Evangeline, 18, is faced with choosing between living out her late-mother’s unfinished dreams at her father’s insistence or following her own charted path that includes her summer boyfriend, the American Max, the magnitude of her decision weighs heavily. When she folds to her father’s pressure and moves to Montreal, she not only finds herself embroiled in political protests and losing Max, but begins to unravel a family secret her father was desperate to hide. My Evangeline, set in retro 1995, tells the story of a willful heroine, who with all her irreverent and rebellious undertones, is stopped in her tracks by duty. With a nod to Longfellow’s epic Evangeline who was faced with the same choice, we meet a contemporary heroine who begins her journey naïve and dutiful. And like the fabled heroine of old, she finds her inner strength once she realizes the casualty of her choices. Elements of magic realism permeate the story as she unravels the secret. She meets an owl, a panther and a raven that challenge her ability to reason as she sets out in search of her true spirit.

My Thoughts:

This story, set in 1995, follows a small town girl as she struggles to decide the path to take in life. On one side are her dreams and on the other are her father’s dreams for her. Torn between having to do what her father wants and her plans to join her boyfriend, Evangaline gives in and moves to Montreal. There she finds herself drawn into participating in political protests. The story shows us that any teenager, when brought up in a certain way with certain expectations, will always find ways to rebel.

Evangeline shows her emotions and expression through her art. Taken by her wonderful work, Sylvia tries to help her out. Evangeline also seems to live in two worlds, the real one, and the one where all the people seem to turn into animals. It seems to be the authors way of portraying how Evangeline thinks and showing us how it differs from many of us normally.

Slowly, our protagonist discovers that many people she meets in Montreal once knew her mother.As she embarks on a journey to try to discover more about her mother, her relationship with Max starts to face problems. All this, over the course of a year in her life, the author brings in some wonderful people for us to meet. The supporting characters like the heroine’s best friend and the people at home all add color and life to the story.

There are some comparisons/parallels drawn with the protagonists namesake from the poem. Even though I have not read the poem, and do not know much about it, it did not take away the beauty of this story for me. The simplicity of the language and the way the author has written the story makes it seem as though the words are just flowing together flawlessly.

This is a lovely story that consists all the elements of love, hurt, friendship and self-discovery. A brilliant mix, it tells us a wonderful tale that will definitely move the reader.

Book Review: The Dante Connection by Estelle Ryan

About the Book:

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Art theft. Coded messages. A high-level threat.

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends’ abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one, but two twisted minds to discover the true target of their mysterious messages. It will take all her personal strength and knowledge as a nonverbal communications expert to overcome fears that could cost not only her life, but the lives of many others.

My Thoughts:

After having read the Gauguin Connection, it was imperative that I would read the next in the series. Even though I felt that the first book had some flaws that I felt existed, it felt right to read on to find out what happens to Genevieve. The story starts off with her feeling lonely and rather angry at her new friends who had supposedly deserted her. She falls back into her usual routine of work and stops talking to people once again. Everything changes when Francine turns up at her doorstep, hurt and begging for help. Genevieve is once more forced to revisit her outlook on life and people and to once again learn to trust people.

Thus follows a series of events that force Genevieve to work with the very people she had thought had abandoned her. This story though quite good, seems to be a little repetitive and many points that were already introduced about our characters are repeated again. This may deter the reader a little and make them pause for a while. However, as the story progresses, it gets better and if we overlook these small things, the story is rather interesting and well written.

For a book filled with mystery revolving around art, this is well thought out and the clues are wonderful. The connection to Dante and the coded messages are intriguing for both the characters and the reader. This is worth a read for fans of this genre. It may seem slow, but is readable even when reading with pauses.

Book Review: The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan

Book Blurb:

The Gauguin Connection (Genevieve Lenard, #1)

Murdered artists. Masterful forgeries. Art crime at its worst.
As an insurance investigator and world renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Dr Genevieve Lenard faces the daily challenge of living a successful, independent life. Particularly because she has to deal with her high functioning Autism. Nothing – not her studies, her high IQ or her astounding analytical skills – prepared her for the changes about to take place in her life. It started as a favour to help her boss’ acerbic friend look into the murder of a young artist, but soon it proves to be far more complex. Forced out of her predictable routines, safe environment and limited social interaction, Genevieve is thrown into exploring the meaning of friendship, expanding her social definitions, and for the first time in her life be part of a team in a race to stop more artists from being murdered.
My Thoughts:
I picked up this book not quite sure what to expect. The synopsis speaks of an plot filled with action and some rather interesting characters. At first I was confused and the story seemed to move at a very slow pace. As I continued reading, however, the pace of the story seemed to pick up. The story has a good plot and well developed characters. However, Genevieve is portrayed as a perfect human being as well as highly intelligent. In some ways it is a little scary that someone can be that perfect, but overall, she does fit into the concept and the story well. Her carefully constructed routine comes crashing down when she is asked to consult on a case being investigated upon by her boss’ friend. This is followed by her encounter with and the introduction to our other protagonist, a thief who is now trying to find those behind the same murders. Working together, after slowly gaining Genevieve’s trust, they work to uncover the truth. What follows is a race against time to solve the mystery and prevent any more deaths.
After a while, the plot’s pace increases some and it becomes quite interesting. The author uses Genevieve’s condition very well and demonstrates her behaviour and that of the people around her as a result of this. The author also brings out the contrast in natures of the main protagonists and we watch as Genevieve grows from her usual recluse self to someone slightly more comfortable around people (within reason and some limits of course!). Though it feels as though a lot of emphasis is given to this and many a time there is repetition of things that have already been mentioned and explained, one can overlook this and read on without much discomfort. Also brace yourselves for a glimpse into the artistic world and some insight into certain artists and their style of painting. Overall this is a decent, one time read!

Book Review: Girl on Fire A deadly Game by Lynne Pickering

About the Book:

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Amanda’s job as a manager in a exclusive shoe factory ends when the factory closes. Her boss Mr Privet is murdered the day after. Is the assassin the same person who burnt her house down? She is held by the police under suspicion and released as new evidence comes to light. With no further ties to her town Amanda drives to LA to further her art career. Her art showed promise at a New York Art Gallery. Mr Privet’s lawyers belatedly make contact with Amanda, and she finds out that Mr Privet left her a large fortune. There are instructions in a series of note books a quest . She must solve clues to a puzzle. Nazi gold is in the story when Mr Privet was in the CIA in Bosnia in 1990. “A who done it!” The first clue in his LA apartment, it leads Amanda to his London apartment and there are more note books and more clues. On to Berlin. She is too rash and makes friends too easily. Suddenly her life is threatened. Continual attempts on her life are made. She suspects that some of her new found friends were also in the CIA and knew Mr Privet and knew about the vast fortune. Are any of these fauve friends criminals? Who can she trust and whom can she love? She feels so alone! Tricks are used. Amanda is the only one that can decipher the codes. Murders, kidnappings, erotic romance. A nail biting, crime thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Lynne’s other adult novels. Melting Love Moments ( a young adult contemporary romance.) And Love Danger and Secrets is a spy story romance set in Russia. They flee over four continents. This physiological crime thriller mixed with romance, will have you coming up for air. It is a new genre. An unending array of deceitful faux friends who will do anything for money.

My Thoughts:

This is an interesting story with a story that is intriguing and well played out. Lynne succeeds in narrating the story without straying from the plot. The main characters are well thought out and well placed in the timeline and their respective roles. The protagonist is street smart and has the ability to handle herself pretty well. The story follows her as she tries to find out the truth behind her boss’s murder, a murder for which she was initially framed, and works on deciphering clues that may lead to a treasure.

I did find the story a little difficult to get into at first but as it progressed I could see that it was definitely worth the read. There were a few scenes in the story that I felt were a little too drawn out or had way too much of drama that didn’t seem to fit in with the story. However, those do not draw attention away from the story.

Once again, Lynne demonstrates her passion for art through this story as she has done in her previous books. It is not surprising to see that her protagonist in this story is not only an art lover but has a wonderful eye for decoration and detail. I personally loved reading about the artists that Amanda, the protagonist encounters, and the detailed insight into their crafts.

Overall I believe that anyone who enjoys a novel which has romance mixed with mystery should definitely pick this book up!

Note: Information about the author is available in some of my previous reviews of her books.