25 June 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

AMAZON UK £1.99 £7.74
AMAZON US $15.60 $21.45
AMAZON CA $14.99

Family Drama
American South

“Memphis, Tennessee, 1939
Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge, until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth...

“Aiken, South Carolina, present day
Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.”

Before We Were Yours is historical fiction set in the American South in the 1930s and tells the unknown and extraordinary tale of baby farming. It is based on fact which makes it all the more engaging - you learn from this novel.

Teenage Rill is left alone to fend for her four siblings when her father rushes her pregnant mother to hospital. Within hours, their houseboat is stormed and the children are forced into an orphanage. For orphanage read 'Baby Market' as the children slowly and agonisingly discover that their parents will never come back and their slow understanding is beautifully portrayed and gripping. The novel goes back-and-forth with a modern day rich girl who also discovers gradually and painfully that her own family have secrets - and if they come out then the result will be devastating.

Now and then the novel loses our attention as it meanders a little and the changes in points of view take time to get used to but a great read and heart wrenching once you know it is based on cold, hard facts.  

© Jeffrey Manton

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23 June 2018

Here we are at the Weekend!

No reviews over the weekend 
but .....

Discovering reader preferences, habits and attitudes
 Announcing the 2018 Reader Survey

Readers and writers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. 

A story is incomplete without both reader and writer.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? How do readers share their book experiences?

designed to solicit input on these topics and others. 

Please take the survey and share this link 
with friends and family via email 
or your favourite social media. 

Robust participation across age groups, genders, and countries will make this year’s survey – the 4th – even more significant. Those who take the survey will be able to sign up to receive a summary report.

Please mention Discovering Diamonds
on the survey 
where appropriate!

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22 June 2018

One Last Dance by Judith Lennox

Shortlisted for book of the month


Family Drama

One Last Dance is a family saga set between 1917 and 1974. This novel has a broad cast of characters and viewpoints and yet the author makes us care about all of them and engage with their hopes and dreams - and feel for their disasters. There is love and betrayal set around a great house in Cornwall - a sort of Mandalay for those familiar with the novel Rebecca - and it sweeps you along at a terrific pace through the first and second world wars and then through the austere fifties and swinging sixties,  yet manages to hold your attention all along.

Shy Esme is forced to compete with her beautiful sister Camilla until Camilla rejects Devlin, the handsome owner of Rosindell. Esme has secretly been in love with Devlin for years and so accepts the bargain in the hope of winning his heart. But Camilla plays games and in one of many plot twists Camilla challenges Esme's marriage with consequences for the next two generations. There are twists and turns, there are moments of heartbreak. It's astonishing an author can lead us through so much history and yet hold our attention. Could barely reach for another chocolate as I read on and on...

© Jeffrey Manton

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21 June 2018

Roman Games by Bruce MacBain

Amazon.co.uk: alas, this title appears to be only available second-hand in the UK - but try your local library

Amazon.com $14.95
Amazon.ca $ n/a


Sextus Verpa, a hated informer to the paranoid Emperor Domitian, is found stabbed to death and Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus – Pliny the Younger to you and me – is called to investigate. Well, not so much to investigate, but to ascertain the guilt of one of Verpa's Jewish slaves – 'traitors and atheists, as they are'.  On the basis that if one is guilty then all of the others must have known about it and are therefore complicit in the murder, their fate is to be burned alive in the arena once the Roman Games have been completed. Pliny has fifteen days to find the truth.

It soon becomes apparent that the main suspect was innocent, but Pliny's task isn't made any easier when the slave is murdered whilst in confinement.

It's all in here: body in a locked room, suspects and motives, people not being who they appear to be, a drunken bawdy poet who finds himself assisting Pliny, a mysterious man with his arm in a sling, religious overtones and political plots.

Poor Pliny; knowing he is inadequate in terms of detection, he stumbles from conclusion to conclusion, all of which prove to be part of the solution but not all of it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this romp. The characterisation of Pliny was excellent, wise, naïve and very, very fallible. Those of a squeamish nature may not like some of the methods of torture and execution that the Romans employed, but fortunately they are not too gruesome – merely matter of fact. There is quite a lot of sexual activity and innuendo but nothing that we might not expect from those 'decadent' times.

Infamy, infamy! They've all got it in for me....”
Very enjoyable.

© Richard Tearle

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