Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

blue-smoke

Synopsis:

Reena Hale grew up with an intimate knowledge of the destructive power of fire. When she was a child, her family’s restaurant was burned to the ground, and the man responsible was sent to jail. The Hale family banded together to rebuild, and Reena found her life’s calling. She trained as a firefighter and then as a cop, always with the end goal in sight: to become an arson investigator. Now, as part of the arson unit, she is called in on a series of suspicious fires that seem to be connected-not just to each other, but to her. And as danger ignites all around her, Reena must rely on experience and instinct to catch a dangerous madman who will not stop until everything she loves has gone up in smoke.

I really enjoyed this book. I had never read Nora Roberts before, but I already have two others lined up. Catarina Hale first experiences fire when to get revenge, Joe Pastroelli burned down the Hale family restaurant, Siricos. Pastroelli is taken off to jail, in front of the neighbourhood and his own son. Having experienced the adrenaline fire produced, Reena trained up on the arson unit in Baltimore. Yet someone is out to get revenge on her – setting fire to all around her, from buildings to lovers. We follow Reena as she tries to second guess the man tormenting her and prevent her whole life, herself including, going up in smoke.

This book had me gripped right from the beginning and by the end, with so much excitement on the last few pages, I could not put this book down. Never did I get bored. I was hooked, and trying to work out the arsonist’s next move too. The anticipation of finding out what was to burn was intense. It was interesting that right from the start we know who is after her – it really isn’t hard to work out – but then as Reena doesn’t know until 100 pages towards the end; in fact it takes her a while to realise she is being targetted, there is a new and exciting level of dramatic irony.

I loved the Hale family. They are a big, Italian family, firmly rooted in the neighbourhood and loved by all. They all look out for each other and protect each other. I loved Xander, Reena’s younger brother, because despite his age, he always had Reena’s back, and saved her on many occassions. I loved Bo, the next door neighbour. It took me a while to figure him out, but he comes through for her and won’t desert her even though he is in danger. And I loathed the arsonist and really wanted to see him taken down. All the characters sparked a response from me, which I think is important in a book.

There was a fair amount of sex, and plenty of bad language, which I didn’t like, but that aside, this was an incredible book. Exciting and engaging. Robert’s writes a fantastic story. I highly recommend this book.

9/10

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Women’s work, 1840-1940 by Elizabeth Roberts

I have read this book as part of my Master’s course.

Synopsis:

This volume addresses some of the difficult issues surrounding women’s work during a century of social upheaval, and demonstrates how hard it is to be precise about the nature and extent of women’s occupations. It focuses on working-class women and the many problems relating to their work, full-time and part-time, paid and unpaid, outside and inside the home. Elizabeth Roberts examines men’s attitudes to women’s work, the difficulties of census enumeration and women’s connections with trade unions. She also tackles in depth other areas of contention such as the effects of legislation on women’s work, a ‘family wage’, and unequal pay and status. Dr Roberts’ study provides a unique overview of an expanding field of social and economic history, while her survey of the available literature is a useful guide to further reading.

I found this a gem of a book. It is only 70 pages long which I was able to read in a couple of hours. It is full of information and it takes a different view of women in this period. There is not a feminist feel or take of this period of history which is rather unusual and is a great tool for historical comparisons. This book is very easy to dip in and out of, easy to follow and understand and the content is very interesting and informative.

9/10