Review of Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly

I loved this book. It starts out in Lithgow and the coal mines in 1914 and covers the war years and beyond. Once I got past the old fashioned dialogue I was swept along with Francine and Daniel every emotional inch of the way. I felt the joy, the uncertainties, the fear and terror as their story unfolded.

It is a love story, but there is so much more to it than that. Kim Kelly has woven the politics, the feel of the times, and how people felt about the leadership during the dark, frightening days of the war, into the story, but there is humour there as well.
The characters are real, and I found it hard to put the book down until I read how the story panned out.
I have also read The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly, which I enjoyed and I will now seek out other books by this talented author.


Review of Daughters of theDragon by William Andrews


This was a history lesson for me. I had heard Korean women were taken and used by the Japanese in World War Two as sex slaves, or comfort women as they called them, but I had no idea of the horrific way they were treated., or that they numbered more than 100,000. William Andrews has done his research well and.although fiction, this book is based on reality, and is a heart -rending story. The latter part of the book also looks at the political side of the division between north and south Korea, which I found interesting.

The story is told in flashbacks by Mrs Hong, a former comfort woman, as she tells her story to her granddaughter, Anna.

The story has some flaws. I found the character of Anna, the American/Korean girl on a visit to Korea,  weak and almost superfluous. Also the writing was not always good, mainly in the present day situation with Anna.

But for all of that I found the story riveting. It is a part of history that I believe has not been widely reported. I give it four stars.


Review of Vineyard in the Hills by Lily Malone

Lily Malone writes in an easy, free flowing style that that makes this book so easy to read. VineyardHer characters are real, some likeable, others less so.

Remy Hanley is warm hearted, unassuming, and independent. She has cut her viticulture degree short and is working two jobs, one at Lasrey’s Wines, to help her widowed mother, and to pay off her late father’s debts.
Seth Lasrey is every inch the boss when we meet him – all business, the dutiful son who is focused on working hard tomanage and grow Lasrey’s Wines, the winery that has grown from the vineyard planted by his mother, Ailsa, and his deceased father Joe, in Margaret River.
The minute Seth sets eyes on Remy he is bowled over and his stiff demeanour relaxes. Remy is almost afraid to let herself believe he could be interested in her. Their romance has hardly begun before a storm, a mistake, and a plot by mother Ailsa and scheming employee Rina, drives them apart, leaving Seth believing the worst about Remy.

Five years later they meet again when Seth acquires a winery in the Adelaide Hills, and the winery buys grapes from the vineyard that Remy has managed to buy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its characters, its storyline, and the descriptions of the Adelaide Hills. Having lived in there, I was able to follow the story to every little town and along every road, which added to my pleasure in reading.

Review of Dear Mrs Bird

This book is a little gem. I picked it up expecting it to be a light, funny, possible witty read. It is all that, but so much more. It is set in London in 1940. Bombs are falling, air raids are almost nightly. People go about their business as usual as is possible when they know they might find their house, or even their whole street, demolished when they leave the air raid shelter.Emmy Lake is a young woman who wants to Do Her Bit. As well as working in a legal office she is a volunteer helping to man the phones in the auxiliary fire service at nights, but she dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. When she sees an advertisement for a junior position in a London paper she applies and gets the job.

She is dismayed to find that instead of being involved in Important News she is merely typist to the extremely intimidating Henrietta Bird, an advice columnist, or ‘agony aunt’, on the paper. Mrs Bird will not answer any queries that she deems to contain Unpleasantness, which includes any requests for advice on Relationships or, heaven forbid, SEX. It is Emmy’s job to open Mrs Bird’s mail and she is forced to cut up these Unpleasant query letters and dispose of them without even showing them to Henrietta.

When Emmy reads letters from women who are Lonely while their husbands or boy friends are Away Fighting, or who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who have other intimate problems, she worries about them and decides to reply to them herself, with unexpected results.

Emmy and her friend Bunty are appealing characters that you can’t help loving as they Make The Best of these appalling times.
This story is funny, witty, moving and poignant. I read it over a weekend and loved it.

Review of The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh

This is a beautifully written book. The descriptive passages of life in India in the early 1930’s and the beauty of the Himalayan mountains are mesmerising. Sometimes I felt that the beauty of the writing was more stirring than the story.

Isla Fenwick is an English woman doctor reaching an age where her father is becoming insistent that she make up her mind which of her suitors, of which there is no shortage, she wishes to marry.

He brings home an old friend, Jovian Mandeville, who is a little older than Isla. When Jovian proposes marriage she accepts him, realising that the crush on him in her childhood days is now love. However she wants to spend a year practising medicine in India, as her mother had done before her death. Jovian agrees, providing she promises to return and marry him a year later.

At the hospital in India she meets the unfathomable Professor Saxon Vickery, and travels with him to a tea plantation in Darjeeling. Drawn to him in a manner she has never before experienced, she must make a difficult decision.

Review of ‘The Crossing’ by Michael Connelly

Another good Harry Bosch book. Harry is on enforced retirement from the LAPD when he is approached by his half-brother Mickey Haller, defence lawyer, to investigate a murder. Mickey is defending the accused, and believes in his client’s innocence. Harry is at first reluctant, as he has always worked to bring the guilty party to justice, and feels he would be betraying his past as a cop by crossing to work for the defence. After meeting the accused he agrees to take on the case, because if the accused is innocent, the murderer is still at large, and he wants to find the guilty person. His condition is that he will reveal the truth of what he finds, whichever way it goes

This is a real whodunnit, with Harry working his way methodically through all the clues. In the process he finds many flaws in certain LAPD members and procedures, which forces him re-consider his previous working life.

Review of ‘Piece of my Heart’ by Peter Robinson

I have long been a Peter Robinson fan but I didn’t find this Istory as interesting as the others I have read. It switches between two cases, the first in 1969, full of hippies and the music and bands of the era, that was investigated by DI Chadwick, and the second in 2005, which is Banks’ case. The connection between the two cases is the Mad Hatter’s, a music group in 1969. In the first it is the murder of the cousin of a band member at the Brimleigh music festival, and in the second the murder is of a journalist who is researching the band for an article about it and its members.
The ending picked up pace, but prior to that I found it rather tame.