The wicked city by Beatriz Williams

Cynthia wicked cityI loved the story of Geneva in prohibition in New York. Beatriz created a distinctive voice for her that transported me to the era of bootleggers, clubs and prohibition enforcers. There were a few twists and turns in the story which kept me interested. The only downfall to the story was the dual storyline of modern day Ella. This story was not as strong as Geneva’s, it was only a fraction of the story and could easily not of been included.

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A few right thinking men by Sulari Gentill

Amy A Few Right Thinking MenSet in Sydney in the 1930s, A Few Right Thinking Men is an historical, cosy mystery. Rowland Sinclair is a wealthy artist, turned amateur sleuth. I really enjoyed the setting (they also went to Yass!), and the characters were suitably quirky and amusing. I found it more about the political history of New South Wales than the murder mystery, but there was just enough intrigue to keep the story going, and I wouldn’t say no to finding out what’s next for Rowly and his friends.

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The scret river by Kate Grenville

Susan The secret river.jpgThe secret river, written by Kate Grenville in 2005, is a historical novel about an early 19th century Englishman transported to Australia for theft. I love this title and have read the book a couple of times. It is an older publication, however I really enjoy the factual story of William Thornhill who was transported from the slums of London to NSW for the term of his natural life. William Thornhill ends up a free man who sails up the Hawkesbury River to claim some land.

However, it is a little confronting when the land he claims is actually owned by the Aboriginal people. The book illustrates the cruelty the Aboriginals faced due to people like William claiming the land, although he wasn’t as bad as some of them.

The book really focuses on the reality of the settler’s life, about ownership, the dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is part of a trilogy about early Australia, along with The Lieutenant, published in 2008 and Sarah Thornhill, published in September 2011.

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Suite Francaise

Amy Suite FrancaiseThough only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.

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The Paris architect by Charles Belfoure

Amy The Paris ArchitectI really like the idea behind the book – a French architect, during WWII, designs hiding places for Jewish people. The plot is fast paced and the resolution satisfying, but for me, the characters were stereotypical and the character development was off. The dialogue was anachronistic and I had a sense of the author being American. I can see why a lot of people would love this book, but the language and characters were not quite what I look for.

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Woman in gold

Tracey - Woman in Gold

Starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

This is a true story about a an elderly Jewish woman – Maria Altman , played by Helen Mirren – who embarks on a quest to reclaim valuable family artworks including a world famous painting in oil, silver and gold of her aunt – ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1’ by Gustav Klimt –  stolen by the Nazis during WW2.

She hires a young inexperienced lawyer who risks his newly acquired job with a reputable law firm to help Maria fight the Austrian Government and the gallery who held not only this particular painting but many works that were stolen from their Jewish owners during the war. The gallery refused to return the stolen works to their owners or acknowledge a theft had taken place. Continue reading

Jewel of the north by Tricia Stringer

Cynthia Jewel of the NorthIt was so nice to revisit the Bakers and the Wiltshires and share in their stories of life in the Flinders Ranges. This is the third novel featuring these characters. There is hardship, joy, sorrow and survival. The Australian landscape can be beautiful and also cruel. It is a lovely insight into what pioneering farming families had to achieve and how communities were built.

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Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards

Brian Naming Jack the RipperAfter 125 years of theorizing and speculation over the identity of Jack the Ripper, Russell Edwards is in the unique position of owning the first physical evidence relating to the crimes to have emerged since 1888 – a shawl belonging to one of the “Rippers” victims, Catherine Eddowes. This evidence is from one of the crime scenes, and has now been rigorously examined by some of the most highly-qualified forensic scientists in Europe who have ascertained its true provenance. With the help of modern forensic techniques, Edward’s ground-breaking discoveries provide conclusive answers to many of the most challenging mysteries surrounding the case.

Unfortunately however, Russell Edwards is an “over-sharer” Continue reading

See what I have done by Sarah Schmidt

Penny See What I Have DoneSee what I have done is a must read for lovers of murder mysteries and historical fiction.

Lizzie Borden’s parents Andrew and Abbey are found brutally murdered in their Massachusetts home. The novel takes the reader back to events leading up to that fateful day in 1892.

Lizzie becomes an immediate suspect in this crime and is send to trial for the murders. The question is did the daughter Lizzie take and axe and butcher her parents or not?

Sarah Schmidt is an Australian author and this is her first novel.

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