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Greaders review Jan/Feb books

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AnninGlos Report 23 Feb 2014 11:50

Please review the books read out of the following list
First the following
Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson

and any of these

Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan
Citadel by Kate Mosse
The Midwife’s confession by Diane Chamberlain

Also maybe review any other books that you have read that you think we'd like.


AnninGlos Report 23 Feb 2014 11:58

Review Custard Tarts and broken hearts

A saga starting with the girls who worked in the custard factory pre the first world war, taking in the strikes to get more equal pay for women and covering the WW1 and how women coped, taking on the men’s jobs.

A good novel covering a lot of the social history of the 39s/40s. Well written and gripping. I enjoyed it.

review Citadel (The Langudoc Trilogy) by Kate Moss

I was really pleased when this book came out as I thoroughly enjoyed Labyrinth and Sepulchre, the first two books in the trilogy. I was expecting this one to be more of the same but it is not. I found it much harder to get interested and had trouble grasping the characters, except for Audric Baillard who is in all three books. The search for the Codex seems to be secondary to the work of women in the French resistance. In itself the storyline surrounding the Resistance is interesting and informative; if violent at times, but the story seems to drag a bit as if the third book was written out of necessity rather than with the excitement of the other two.
The flashbacks to Arinius in the year 342 were good links for the main story line but always seemed a bit short to me. I wanted to know more about his life.
The descriptions of the torture endured by Sandrine were very realistic and horrific when you realise they are based on the fact of what is known about Nazis torture. Not enjoyable to read but necessary for the story. I wished for a different ending but thinking about it, it could not have ended in any other way really. The final story of the trilogy and the solving of the mystery of the Codex. I am not sure I always understood the Codex story but I liked the way that it linked in with Sandrine’s story.
Although I was doubtful about the book at the start, and although some of the chapters were a bit wordy and long winded, I did actually enjoy it.

review the Mill river recluse by Darcie Chan

At first I found the jumping around in time disconcerting but did get used to it after a while.

A good story, very well written a damaged girl who develops agrophobia, loves horses and meets and marries the love of her life. Who is not all he seems

Sadly things go badly wrong for her, and her husband's grandfather is really her only friend. Until she finds another friend in the local priest Michael O'brian who comes to look on Mary as a sister and looks after her in her white marble mansion. She knows and tolerates his rather eccentric secret vice. And he tolerates her fear of going out.

There is more than one damaged person in the story, Mary herself, Daisy, a simple soul misunderstood by the townspeople but harmless and Leroy a rather unpleasant police officer who causes problems and gets his come uppance finally, after he takes things too far and Claudia who has a bad body image from the past. All these well written characters and many others link together into a good saga. I loved it.

The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chambers.
I picked this book up in The Works one day when looking for a second book to make up the 2 for £5. It was one by Diane Chamberlain, an author I like, that I had not read. I am so glad i did pick it up and I think it is the best one of hers that I have read. On the cover it says, ‘As good as Jodi Piccoult’ and I would agree with that.
It is beautifully written, the story told in the first person of each of the main characters.
It is actually difficult to discuss the book without giving away the plot but it hinges on an action by Noelle a one- time midwife who commits suicide, and the effects this action has on close friends Tara and Emerson and their families.
The characters are beautifully written, from Grace the stroppy teenager sad because her boyfriend has dumped her on going away to Uni, to Jenny her laid back best friend and their mothers to Hayley a little girl with leukaemia who is so worldly wise.
At times the story is heart rending with a missing child, a child with leukaemia needing a transplant and the heartbreak associated with it a.
As you can no doubt tell, I really enjoyed this one.


Pammy51 Report 23 Feb 2014 19:14

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts

In 1911 Nellie Clark works at the Pearce Duff's custard powder factory and looks after her widowed father and her younger siblings. The story develops against the background of fear of poverty, the rise of womens fight for better conditions and the growing likelihood of war.
The characters are portrayed with warmth and I found the story both heart wrenching and funny.
I was interested to read about the strike in 1911 as this was the year my grandparents married in West Ham, so their married life would have begun to this background of unrest and I wonder how it would have affected them.
An enjoyable book with lots to interest those who enjoy history.

Jill in France

Jill in France Report 23 Feb 2014 21:12

Citadel (The Langudoc Trilogy) by Kate Moss
I am still only half way through this and so far finding it hard going and not enjoying as much as her other books, Think I would prefer longer sections of Arinus but will persevere with the book, at the moment I keep dipping into it and should make more of an effort. Beginning to prefer my I Pad mini for reading as can curl up in bed with it but my copy is a real book.
x Jill


Mersey Report 23 Feb 2014 21:21

Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan

Mary McCallister a recluse hiding in her large white marble mansion at Mill River, She was disfigured by an uncaring and self obsessed husband many years before and she hides from the outside world although taking a very keen interest in the town and its occupants without any of them knowing. Secrets are a plenty and Father Michael who has a little secret of his own he helps Mary with her acts of kindness along the 60years of their friendship.

Each individual character has a part to play in the book with a small connection to the story. The communtity are brilliantly expressed in this book apart from one which I did think there was no real reason for this character to be involoved in the story......

A heart warming read and every page made me want to read the next. Very highly recommended and I am now looking forward the Darcie Chans next novel "Mill River Redemption" which is out in August 2014....

Custards Tarts and Broken Hearts

Set amongst factory girls in the South East of London in 1911. Nellie works in the custard factory, the girls were all known as custard tarts. At the age of 16 Nellie sets out to work in the factory in order to help her family stay together, fed and clothed in such hard times.

She has a friend Lily who helps her through the hard times and the upset and also bringing light relief to her hard life.

She has two men who are very much interested in her Sam a delivery boy, and Ted. Life turns even more chatic when there are talks of strikes amongst the factory due to the awful working conditions. This make the battle even harder to win through.

I enjoyed this book very much and from the very first page I was hooked. I am glad this book was mentioned on the Greaders suggestions as otherwise I do not think I would have read it...


AnninGlos Report 23 Feb 2014 22:15

Thanks to those who have posted reviews so far. Jill your view of Citadel is much like mine :-)


Berona Report 24 Feb 2014 05:49

Custart Tarts and Broken Hearts.
I found this book very enthralling in the way it showed the inside story of how people managed on very little income and how they had to work as much as possible to get enough to put food on the table. I loved the way a young girl could take on the role of mother and keep the family together - not just her own, but another family as well. Although not my usual choice - I loved this book.

The Midwife's Confession.
Haven't quite finished this one yet, but am enjoying it. What a dreadful burden to carry when Noelle obviously loved delivering new babies. I still have more to read, but have been unable to finish it in time for a better review.


AnninGlos Report 24 Feb 2014 08:41

No problem Berona, give us another review when you have finished it.

Jill in France

Jill in France Report 24 Feb 2014 20:10

Ann still reading it but its not like some of her other books where I cannot put down, I am finding it very drawn out,. Didn't have time to read one of the others but handy seeing the reviews as can get the ones that interest me,

xx Jill


AnninGlos Report 24 Feb 2014 21:11

I felt there was too much of the modern and not enough of the past which she does so well. It became just another war story for me. I have to say that I found the last quarter of the book more compelling than the first three.

Jill in France

Jill in France Report 24 Feb 2014 22:07

Will carry on with it :-)

xx Jill


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 25 Feb 2014 02:54

Still reading Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts.

Have now got The Citadel but haven't read it yet.

Waiting for Mill River Recluse.

Will be back with reviews one at a time - as I read them.


AnninGlos Report 25 Feb 2014 09:28

OK Tess no problem, no hurry.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 28 Feb 2014 19:01


Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts.

A first novel by Mary Gibson, so I couldn't compare it to earlier efforts.
Set just before, during and after WW1, this tale varies from most that I have read about that period.
Although the young men go off to fight for King and Country the women stay in London, and don't venture to France/Belgium to nurse or entertain the troops.
It was more the story of what happens to people on or near the breadline.
The story of factory hands, trying to make ends meet and bringing up their families in difficult circumstances. rather than the story of landed gentry or the daughters of vicars and teachers.

Was surprised to read that "Oh You Beautiful Doll" was a popular song before WW1. So surprised that I checked on internet and found a (very) old recording (1911?).
(I think) that this is the link for it
www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSVKO2OYrps (hope that it works).

Enjoyed the story and found it to be quite informative, however I felt it was let down by the ending.

I know that this is fiction, but I thought that it was fiction with a hint of reality .
The details of what happened to the two "missing" men just too far fetched, especially regarding Sam. I know that quite extraordinary things happened at the time - but it was a bit too Disney for me.
Seemed that the author just wanted a happy ending - or perhaps she was talked into it by others.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 28 Feb 2014 19:03

Am now reading (and enjoying) The Citadel.

Library have not yet got Mill River Recluse, so have cancelled the request.

Will try to get (or request) the next two books next week.

Will now read everyone else's reviews (except for The Citadel).


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 14 Mar 2014 13:24

Review for The Citadel.

I was looking for ward to reading this book as I had read stories by this author before.

I quite enjoyed (if that is the right word) reading about living in France during WW11 the Resistance the Marquis and every day life but found the connection between that and the past (4th Centuary) rather streached.

Loved reading about Lupa and the people around her - would have liked to know more about her life and times.

It felt, at times, as if someone had thought that as her previous books linking past and present had been so successful, Mosse should "go for it" again in this novel.
It didn't quite work for me.

If this had been the first book I'd read by Mosse, I'm not sure that I would have read a second one!
Two separate novels might have been a better idea. Of course the ending of the WW11 one would have to be changed considerably - but I don't think that change is always a bad thing.

I was interested to read in the Author's notes that of the 1,061 Croix de la Liberation - presented by General de Gaulle for exceptional acts of resistance and bravery - only 6 were given to women.

I am now re-reading Labyrinth (by Kate Mosse) and feel far more involvrd with both sides of the story.


P.S. Hoping that my son willtake me to a (different) local(ish) library tomorrow so that I can request the next two books.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 14 Mar 2014 13:33

Now that I have read (and reviewed) two books, I've read the other reviews. (Don't like to be influenced by others point of view).

This time it seems that we are all 9more or less) in agreement. A case (I hope) of "great minds think alike".

Enjoyed reading the reviews of the two books I didn't read, so will continue to look out for them.


AnninGlos Report 14 Mar 2014 15:33

Thank you Tess for that.