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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pride & Regicide by Cathy Bryant

Title: Pride & Regicide
Author: Cathy Bryant
Publisher: 29 September 2015 by Crooked Cat Publishing 
Pages: 100 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: mystery, thriller, regency, Jane Austen
My Rating: 3 crowns

Synopsis:

"The King? Dead? Here? Murdered? Regicide! Oh, heaven preserve us! Was it the French? Are they here? They will kill us all, and make us eat strange sauces."

So says Mrs Bennet, but the king is not dead - Miss King is dead, and it looks like murder.

Three years after the events of Pride and Prejudice, and having long been considering the role of single women in society, Mary Bennet puts her formidable mind to work to solve the case. Armed only with philosophy, her best friend, Cassandra Lucas, and some nifty detective techniques involving embroidery, Mary discovers secrets and scandals that may make her the murderer's next victim...

My Thoughts

Short and interesting - it was that simple. I am a huge Jane Austen fan and always venture into any spin-offs of her work. Some, of course, are better than others. Bryant doesn't claim to produce a continuation of the famous 'Pride and Prejudice', rather:

"Nor do I presume to call this a sequel. It is a light-hearted story and a tribute, and that is all."

And she does it well. It is well written in style and story, planning and plot, character and setting. What more could you ask for in a weekend escape?

This tale picks up three years from the end of Pride and Prejudice. Mary Bennet - still living at Longbourn - is friends with Cassandra Lucas - Charlotte's younger sister. As they are out walking one day, they see someone fall from the local bell tower. It is Mary who sees a shadow in the tower and decides to find out who the murderer is. And the victim, remember Miss King?

"Poor Miss King has few enough advocates in life - she has at least us in death."

I was pleasantly surprised with 'Pride and Regicide'! In fact, with Bryant's Regency voice in line with Austen and her pick up of character traits quite good, she presents a valid and entertaining short story. In fact I found it to be much like:

"... a comfortable social blanket, soothing us all and keeping out the cold facts of life."



This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Under The Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair

Title: Under The Spanish Stars
Author: Alli Sinclair
Publisher:25 January 2016 by Harlequin Australia MIRA
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, romance, Australian-Spanish cultural
My Rating: 3 crowns

Synopsis:

Charlotte Kavanagh’s beloved grandma Katarina Sanchez is gravely ill, so when she begs Charlotte to travel to her homeland in AndalucĂ­a to uncover the truth behind a mysterious painting, Charlotte agrees.  Taking leave from her soul-destroying job and stalled life in Australia, Charlotte embarks on a quest through Granada’s ancient cobble-stoned streets and vibrant neighbourhoods. There she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a dark past, and through him she quickly becomes entangled in the world of flamenco and gypsies that ignites a passion she had thought lost. 

But the mystery surrounding the painting deepens, reaching back in time to the war-torn Spain of the 1940s and Charlotte discovers her grandmother’s connection to the Spanish underground. Who is her grandmother, really? What is Mateo’s connection to her family history? And why is finding answers to a family mystery turning into a journey of self-discovery for Charlotte?

Weighed down by secrets, betrayals and shattered relationships, Charlotte finds herself questioning the true meaning of heritage, family and love. 

My Thoughts 

"There was nothing so exciting as a blank canvas, the chance to create a world from one's imagination, to pour out the feelings of one's soul."

This tale centres around Charlotte (an Australian) and her Spanish Grandmother. The former is sent on a journey which ultimately leads to her discovering her own path in life. The latter, time to reflect upon a tumultuous past. So in a nutshell it's contains family saga's, exotic Spanish locations, romance with a touch of mystery thrown in. 

There is some good research included and I especially enjoyed the young Katarina's story in Franco Spain. It's fascinating to read about life, cultural expression and family/society divisions at that time.

"Franco had come into power he'd lorded it over the people, his unwavering belief in Catholicism influencing daily life."

It has strong associations with Latin dancing, so if you are at all interested in "Duende" (stated often) or the importance of dance there is much to read and learn here.

"Rondena is part of the fandango malagueno and is the oldest fandango ever known."

For me, it was a little slow for things to get going; it took until about half way through for my interest to be peaked with the Grandmothers questions about her heritage and the mystery painter becoming evident. Sinclair takes the opportunity to reflect on life through her characters and there are many worthy snippets of advice to reflect upon:

"Do not live in a future of what-ifs ..... live in the moment .... life should be scary at times. How else can we push ourselves to dig deeper, climb higher .... regrets are pointless, focus on the good in life, embrace what we have and move on as best we can."

In many ways it could be described as a travel fiction as there are interesting cultural aspects. Ultimately, however, it's about life and finding one's path.

"She'd discovered a new self, connected with a past and found a future.....welcoming Charlotte to her new home under the Spanish stars."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.