Saturday 22 August 2020

Catching up - again

I'm permanently behind with reviews so let's see if I can catch up quickly. All three of these are new additions to my Kindle by the way, not one of them comes off the real tbr shelf and all three I bought after seeing them on various blogs I visit. So I'm blaming other people for these three, you know who you are!

I'll start with A Watery Grave by Joan Bluett.

Wiki Coffin is half New Zealand Maori, half American, his father being a sailor from New England. Wiki was brought back to the US by his father as a child and brought up by his step mother, speaking English but still a Maori in spirit. It's 1838 and Wiki gets a position as a linguist with the United States Exploring Expedition but just before it sets sail he's accused of the murder of the wife of a local big-wig. The Sheriff eventually comes to the conclusion that Wiki did not do it and lets him go on condition that he will investigate while on board his ship, The Swallow, the Sheriff being of the opinion that the murderer is sailing with the expedition. Any voyage aboard a sailing ship is hazardous enough but this will increase the danger tenfold. Can Wiki survive this? I do love a sea-voyaging book. Perhaps it's something to do with having been brought up by the sea and loving being there (but not in the summer, at least not these days) that makes books about the ocean so attractive to me, I'm not sure. I don't mind if it's non-fiction or fiction but I do have a preferance for historical sailing yarns rather than modern day ones, I suspect it's do with being really cut off from land centuries ago with the complete lack of communications and, you know, 'sailing ships'!! Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in the Wiki Coffin series. Lots of adventure on the high seas, very atmospheric, but also gentle feeding of historial information about what it was like to serve on these ships. A picnic it was not! But then I knew that from reading Redburn and Moby Dick by Herman Melville and other sundry books, must give Patrick O'Brian another go at some stage. A Watery Grave was a very readable but honest book about life at sea in the 1800s and not a bad mystery to boot: I really enjoyed it.

Next up, Gallow's Court by Martin Edwards.

London 1930 and Jacob Flint, a young journalist from Yorkshire, is trying to make a name for himself with the newspaper he's working for, The Clarion. He's become fascinated by Rachel Savernake, the daughter of a deceased 'hanging judge'. She solved a recent 'Chorus Girl' murder case before Scotland Yard could do it and is now embroiled in the suicides of two emminent men who, it turns out, were both murderers. High level curruption is a dangerous game and Savernake lets Jacob know that he's very much out of his depth and ought to back off. People start to die and Jacob knows he ought to heed Rachel's warning but he needs a big scoop to prove himself, so of course doesn't do any such thing. Interesting book this. Rather confusing at the start. Who's doing what to whom? Who is on the side of right? Who isn't? Who is somewhere in the middle? I had no idea and even towards the end of the book was pretty clueless. Rachel Savernake is a very interesting character, seemingly invincible but I had no idea what her business was and and what she was up to. Martin Edwards is such a good writer and is apparently fascinated by the period between the wars. As he's been very involved with the BLCC vintage crime reisssues and has produced many of their anthologies, this comes as no surprise. This is a good start to a new series and I already have book 2, Mortmain Hall, on my Kindle.

And now, as they say, for something completely different, Virgin River by Robyn Carr.

Mel Monroe lost her husband a year ago in a fatal shooting in a convenience store. He was a doctor and her a nurse specialising in midwifery, in a busy hospital in LA in California, both jobs being very full-on. She was devastated beyond belief and can no longer cope with her very demanding job. Needing a total change she applies for a position in a small town in northern California, Virgin River. She's been told the elderly doctor in the town needs help and that there will be good accommodation waiting for her. On arriving she finds neither are true. The cabin she's supposed to live in is practically falling down and the curmudgeonly doctor is stubornly refusing all offers of assistance. Mel resolves to stay a day or two and then go off to her sister in Colorado. She's on the verge of leaving when a baby is discovered abandoned on the steps of the doctor's surgery. Now she'll have a stay a few days longer because someone needs to look after the baby. Naturally a few days becomes a few days more as local births occur and she gets involved with the local bar and restauant owner, Jack Sheridan. Well this is very much a Mills and Boon type romance so the reader knows pretty much what to expect. It's well written, has a good sense of rural, mountainous California that I didn't know much about, and I enjoyed all of the characters in the story. There's a touch of intrigue and danger so there's a bit more to it than romance, plus it has a very real sense of a grieving widow and the time it takes to get over a terrible loss. Jack is also an ex-serviceman who has served in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan and there are tragic images from that which make this book a little less fluffy than you might expect. I thoroughly enjoyed this first in Robyn Carr's 'Virgin River' series (I think there's a TV series on Netflix now which is where the cover photo comes from) and already have book 2 downloaded to my Kindle. It's my first book for California too for my US challenge to read a book from every state.



Robin said...

That’s a very nice review, Cath! I’ve enjoyed spending my summer in “Virgin River,” getting to know the stories of the many inhabitants. The subsequent books all overlap, and that makes it all the more fun. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

Kay said...

I liked your review of Virgin River as well, Cath. Glad you decided to try it. I mentioned on Robin's blog that I read the whole series a over time a while back. It suited me very well at the time I read it. Not sure if I'd want to watch the TV adaptation or not. Sometimes that works well for me and sometimes it doesn't. LOL

DesLily said...

Glad you are reading some good books! You might want to tell your daughter to see the Novella's that will be coming out (one a month) for e-reading! I was thrilled to see them... except I don't have an e-reader..I hope amazon puts theirs on sale soon !! lol

Sam said...

I really like the sound of "Watery Grave." I haven't read a whole lot of ocean-going books but I have definitely enjoyed the ones that I have read. My favorite period for historical fiction is about 1800 to 1875 or so, and I like the way that this one ties in a murder mystery to a slow-moving ocean vessel. I can't imagine anything more dangerous than trying to catch a murderer in the middle of the ocean in those days. Going on the buy-list. Thanks.

Lark said...

Both Gallows Court and Virgin River sound like books I would really like. On to the library website to see if they're available! :)

Cath said...

Robin: what a nice way to spend your summer. I'm so pleased to hear that the books overlap as I naturally want to know what happens with Mel and Jack.

Kay: Thank you. I had seen mention of the series before so perhaps it was on your blog that I saw it. I'm not at all sure I want to watch the series either, perhaps when I've read all of the books, seeing as there are 20 I won't hold my breath.

Pat: I got my Kindle Fire in an Amazon sale... £50 off... I was very pleased with that.

Sam: It's funny but I thought about Moby Dick as I was reading this, whalers feature a bit and Wiki has sailed on them quite a lot. There's lots of tension amongst the crew as you can imagine and that makes life very interesting aboard. I thought for the first book in a series this was not at all bad.

Lark: Good luck finding them. Virgin River being an American book you shouldn't have any trouble but Gallows Court might be more tricky.

Marg said...

I have read the entire Virgin River series a couple of times now and watched the TV series as well. I can't wait for the new book to come out later this year, and for season 2 of the TV series whenever that happens.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I love the cover art of Gallows Court, this sounds like a one I might like. I read Virgin River over 10 years ago and although it wasn't the kind of story I'm usually drawn to, I really loved it.

DesLily said...

Goodness, but you are a reading, buzz lol.
It's always good when you enjoy a book to know there will be more to read as a series!!!

Lark said...

So I checked...and not only does my library have a copy of Virgin River, but they have Gallows Court, too! I love my library. :D

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Phew! I'm so pleased that I am not on the list of people responsible for your latest Kindle drop of books - This time anyway!!

The Martin Edwards book is already winging its way to my list and I shall be checking out the Robyn Carr books. I think that nearly all of us enjoy a secret dose of M&B style reading every once in a while and I don't mind standing alongside you and admitting it out loud!

I do enjoy your mini reviews :)

Yvonne xx

Cath said...

Marg: Wow, you must like it if you've read the whole series twice over! That bodes well for me I think.

Diane: It seems the Virgin River series is almost universally popular! Which is nice to hear.

Pat: It's funny, I don't feel like I'm reading a lot as I'm not forcing it but the numbers are stacking up.

Lark: Yaay... really pleased to hear that.

Yvonne: LOL... no, not you this time though you have been guilty in the past!

Yes, I don't mind admitting to enjoying a little dose of M&B from time to time. And this one was a bit more involved than a run of the mill one anyway. I think it's one of the MIRA 'suspense' ones from Harlequin and M&B.

Thank you for kind words and support. xxx

TracyK said...

I had not heard of A Watery Grave, it sounds very interesting. I like a sea voyage book but closer to an ocean liner voyage. Not that I have found many books like that.

I do have a copy of Gallow's Court by Martin Edwards (but not with that lovely cover). I look forward to reading it sometime this year.

Cath said...

Tracy: Yes, actually I quite like the odd ocean liner book too, there's one in the Daisy Dalrymple series and I enjoyed a creepy short story in a ghost anthology I read last year.

I'd be very interested to hear what you think of Gallow's Court when you get to it.