Book Connections

Eyes On These Romantic Suspense Books

These are all books I want to read in 2021. As I was sorting books out that I want to read I realised these ones all have a large element of romantic suspense. A genre I enjoy.

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At the very top of my list is State of Affairs. This is a “new” series by Marie Force but with her characters all from her Fatal series – which is romantic suspense. It’s probably my top addictive series read. These books have plenty of police procedural, murder and other horrible things happening. But as well it is so full of family and feel good aspects.

I pre-ordered this book on Kindle soon as I finished the last book in the Fatal series. April 20th. Don’t care what I will be in the middle of reading I’ll stop and read this one straight away.

bookcover Mary Kay Andrews always writes a good story and I like to either read or listen to them. I’ve only just read her last one, but if I’ve got it then I can pick it up when I need this kind of  read. This one seems to involve a murder, someone on the run, the sister and her young niece. Escaping the murderer it seems. Has enough promise there.

book cover Legacy  publishes in May and most likely needs no introduction. It will be romantic suspense as well. May listen to this on audiobook. Will see who the narrator is.

book coverAnother series I really like. #3 in the Sacramento series.Say Goodbye.  It will be a continuing story of a cult group and the FBI group that are working to find and end it. These books are always very fast moving and take place over a short time. There are a lot of pages but they go so fast. This one doesn’t come out to August. But it will be an automatic buy!

book coverThis one came out in December 2020 and is set in Alaska where a young girl is accused wrongly of murder. It is #1 in a series so a good place to begin. I haven’t read much Christina Dodd, only one other I think. So looking forward to finding out if I get hooked. I’ll know very soon because this one just came in from the library and I plan to read it very soon.

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Garden Books.

I am not a gardener although there are plenty in my family who are and my forebears were gardeners too. Most of my garden is very dry at present, and I do have a small veggie garden. Love picking from that.

There have been quite a few books I’ve read that have almost at centre stage – a garden.

book cover The Unfinished Garden is the author’s debut novel and the only one I hadn’t read of hers until now. Tilly the main woman character is into gardens and garden and loves it. Both in North Carolina where she has a business and in her home in England where she spends some time as well. Then there is James who wants Tilly’s help with a garden for his place. He has OCD and can’t put his hands near the earth. This book I think is titled The Unfinished Garden because a garden is never finished. How true!  Barbara Claypole White always presents a very compassionate stance towards her characters with mental illness and I always love her knowledge and the help she provides her readers to take these people into their hearts.

book coverA Home Like Ours also has a special Australian garden at its centre. It’s very important and brings a community together. My review for this one will be up soon. It was a 5 star read for me.

book coverThis was an engrossing tale, told from a few different viewpoints and times. The story and mystery unfold – the reader has enough clues to see what has happened before the characters. Its both sad and and uplifting. What a complicated family! It involves a kind of secret garden.

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The Garden of Happy Endings  involves sisters and a community garden in a poor part of town. I loved this story, so thoughtful and enjoyable. Loved the  women and each of their stories. Their search and exploration of what makes them happy was important. I especially appreciated Elsa’s journey – her spiritual one and her search for her partner in life. Felt very real and authentic.

book coverThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. Witty and insightful. Wonderful group of characters. Two sisters, well two sets of sisters who made me laugh and at times sad. A group of people who come together around a gardening project and form what I think will be lasting friendships. Tons of good hints about gardening.

There is another book I’ll be wanting to read… The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly which comes well recommended.

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Romance Books : Reading Joy.

I was once a very avid romance reader, although now its women’s fiction that has taken its place. I happen to like a happy ending kind of book, and at least a promise of happiness.

These are some of my favourite contemporary books that  I have copies of sitting on my shelf, mostly from the past. I still read the occasional recent romance but nothing that really fully satisfies.

Since its February and I missed out on the Valentine theme last week I thought I’d take it up this week.

book coverLong before Virgin River became a Netflix series I had read Virgin River and… all the books that followed. Quite a few as three came out every year for awhile. Robyn Carr writes a good story and there was lots of romance along the way.First Lady

I’ve also read all Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, every single one of them. I think First Lady would be my favourite. The First Lady escapes and journeys around the country with a Dad and two daughters in a motor home. SEP does have a new romance out this year and of course I’ll buy and read it!

book cover I loved all Judith McNaught’s books, and this is one of her contemporary romances. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with a number of others written by her. I have no idea now about it so should really reread it to see if I still love it.

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Well this is one by Jessica Bird.  Later on she writes as J. R. Ward. I found all her Jessica Bird books and loved them. Another one I should reread to see how I feel about it now. I think this was her debut book, according to someone on GR. I am not sure but anyway I have them and they still sit on my shelves.

book cover This one is more recent and is YA and contemporary romance. K. A. Tucker has hooked me with a number of her books and I loved this one when I read it in 2019. I have to admit I could easily read it again now, and its why I saved it on my shelf.

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Looking at 2021 Books March to April.

I like to look ahead to books I want to read, when they are publishing  and whether I’ll buy or reserve them at the library. I know I said I’ll buy less books this year, but it could work the other way!

These are just five I have in my sights, however I have more!! I love checking out books to be published by authors I love!

book coverThe Summer of Lost and Found is another book in Mary Alice Monroe’s Rutledge family and the sea turtles of course. I see this one acknowledges the coronavirus which is interesting. I will definitely want to read it.   May publication.

book cover I’ve become a fan of Viola Shipman’s books and so of course The Clover Girls will be an automatic read. It seems to be about four girls/women and their friendship.  May publication as well.

book coverAnother automatic read and it looks like this one will be great too, with it’s exploration of family what happens to embryo’s that are ‘abandoned’ because the mother has died. Even better Under Southern Skies publishes in April for audio and Kindle. Haven’t decided which format yet.

book coverSurviving Savannah is an exploration of the ship Pulaski and a family that boarded it. It seems a couple may have survived. History professor Everly Winthrop hopefully gets to discover more. And the reader of course as well! Publishes March. This one I have pre-ordered.

book coverEven though this is partially set in WW11 I can’t pass it by. Looks like a dual time line. It appears to have grief and resilience mixed in there, and I am sure lessons to be learned. Besides it’s written by Karen White!  Publishes in April.

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Debut Books of 2020/21

I’ve become an avid fan of the Friends and Fiction podcast, mainly because its by authors I enjoy and just about always auto buy. So therefore I figure they are going to be talking about books I might enjoy. Recently they introduced us to five new authors, and their debut novels. Two of them published in 2020 and the others come out this year. So I had to take a look at them to see if they might hold promise for my reading life.

book cover In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.  Published March 2020 by Mercer University Press.

And yes I think that’s a possible read I’d like to try. So adding to my TBR

book coverThis one involves a terminal cancer diagnoses for Tommy the partner of Alexis which throws them into turmoil and for their teenage daughter Cece.  Published April 7 2020. William Morrow.

Sounds a bit heavy and sad, probably heavy on tissues, so its a maybe… possible…. read.

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The Kindest Lie examines the heartbreaking divide between black and white communities and plumbs the emotional depths of the struggles faced by ordinary Americans in the wake of the financial crisis. Nancy Johnson’s debut novel offers an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream. Will be published Feb 2021 by William Morrow.

Could be a possible read, putting it in my TBR and might give it a try if its at the library.

book coverThis one seems to be dual time line and has to do with an apothecary who dispenses poisons to women who want to get rid of men who have wronged them. This one comes out in March by Park Row.

While not fond of dual time lines, I may look at this. Elizabeth from Silver Reviews is reading this so will certainly read her review and be informed by it. Love the cover.

book cover This one is about a brother and sister returning home after their mother dies.

But as they uncover more about Geneva’s death, shocking truths are revealed that overturn the family’s history as they know it, sending the pair on an extraordinary journey to chase a truth that will dramatically alter the course of their lives.

Could be a read I’d like, it’s Southern fiction and Susan Wiggs says it will appeal to fans of When the Crawdad Sings. I didn’t particularly like that one, but will still give it a look.

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Heart Gifts.

The next read I have lined up for myself is one about someone dealing with a heart transplant. One of the reasons I read is to explore through book characters what its like for people to deal with such life changing events. I decided to look at other books with this theme running through them.
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The Gift of Life.   Josephine Moon

Gabby McPhee is the owner of The Tin Man, a chic new cafe and coffee roasting house in Melbourne. The struggles of her recent heart transplant are behind her and life is looking up – until a mysterious customer appears in the cafe, convinced that Gabby has her deceased husband’s heart beating inside her chest.

book coverIf I Should Lose You Natasha Lester

As it turns out another Australian author. And… I have this one already waiting on my bookshelf, just haven’t so far got to read it, but now my interest is re-awakened.

Camille is a nurse specialising in supporting families through the difficult decision to donate the organs of their dying loved ones. Camille’s mother is a gifted but uncompromising transplant surgeon determined to make it in a man’s world until her own life falls apart. And Camille herself is a mother to Addie – five years old, critically ill and in desperate need of the very organs her mother and grandmother work with.

Tiny Pieces of Us Nicky Pellegrino. book coverI had this one on my radar by a New Zealand author but wasn’t too sure, however now I am reconsidering. I think it could still be in the shops, if not will look at the library.

Vivi Palmer knows what it’s like to live life carefully. Born with a heart defect, she was given a second chance after a transplant, but has never quite dared to make the most of it. Until she comes face-to-face with her donor’s mother, Grace, who wants something in return for Vivi’s second-hand heart: her help to find all the other people who have tiny pieces of her son.

book coverThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae.   Stephanie Butland 

Another one I may consider reading. I’ve read one Stephanie Butland and I suspect I’d find this one on Kindle.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.
She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure.

book coverChange of Heart Jodi Piccoult

I am not sure if I’ll read this one. Mixed reviews by readers I follow. It will have a lot of angst I know as a mother struggles to accept the offer of a heart for her daughter from a man she cannot forgive!

I might still have a change of heart over reading this one!

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Cozy Series I Am Reading

I haven’t given much attention to Cozy Mysteries but I am finding more time for them in my reading life. These are the ones I am enjoying and catching up on at the moment. I’ll try not to get into any more until I’ve read through some of these. I like starting from the beginning of a series. Just one of those things!

Her Royal Spyness Series

I am on #5 of this series and so far have listened to them on audio.  Georgie the heroine is about 30 something in line to the throne in England. She is a very poor member of the aristocracy, but that doesn’t stop her from becoming involved in solving murders. I see it goes up to #15. Not sure if I will get that far!

Kat Holloway Mysteries.

book cover Murder in the East End was the last one I read – it’s #4. Again its set in England and has an Upstairs/Downstairs feel to it. Kat Holloway is the cook, quite young and very astute.As well there is Daniel McAdam who turns up every so often and is a bit of an enigma. They solve murders though! The next one comes out in July 2021.

The Haunted Library Mystery series by Alison Brooks

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Read and Gone is #2 in this series and is set in a small town, USA. Carrie is the events planner at the local library, where we also have a ghost that chats to her. Plus a delightful cat called Smokey Joe. In this book her Dad turned up and it all involved stolen jewels and murders. I have listened to the first two on Audible because they were free and I have #3 queued up as well. After the I’ll have to buy them!!

Quilting Mysteries by Mary Marks   book coverI am reading through this series, I have two more coming from the Library, I just bought the next two because they aren’t at the library and then Kensington will publish I think about #9 mid year and I’ll be all ready for it! I enjoy the characters and the things they get into. Plus the quilting tips of course.

Second Chance Cat Mystery. Sofie Ryan

book cover I’ve read two in this series set in Maine. I enjoy the characters, Elvis the cat and I want to know more about Mac in relation to Sarah. So this is another mystery series I’ll read on much further into.

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My 2021 Reading Intentions

I think now is the time for me to focus on 2021 and what I want in my reading life for the coming year. These may be refined as I go along as I’ll check myself out at the end of each month.

  1. Read 100 books via the Goodreads Challenge. This is doable for me and I prefer quality reading ( as I enjoyed that book) over reading tons of books.
  2. Read what I truly enjoy, sometimes I stray into the “should”. I should read this book or I should like that book because….  I want to truly own my own reading taste. My taste veers towards what some call “fluff”, which to be honest I find somewhat objectionable. I like books that end satisfactorily, I like good writing but not flowery literary writing. I like a good engaging plot and characters who grow and that I can enjoy.  Within those parameters I read fairly widely I think. I always welcome a good theme with a something to say about life and I like it when an author has a distinctive voice.
  3. Track where I pick up the recommendation for reading a book. It’s not necessary but I still want to do it. Why because if I like the book then I am more likely to pick up another recommendation from the source.
  4. Read or pass on a good swag of the books sitting on my shelves and Kindle. Some of these are ones possibly that I thought I “should” read and like, so I’ll just pass them on or delete if on my Kindle.
  5. Use the library where I can rather than buy books, although there will always be some authors I choose to auto buy or ones I want for other reasons. But …. softly, softly! I did use the library really well in 2020 and I want to continue that … but I really need to be sure I when buying that its a book I really want to keep.

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Five Favourite Books from Second Half of 2020

Today I am sharing five star books from July to December. I had some more five star books but these I think are my top ones. As it happens they were all published this year.  I think they also tell me about what I like to read.  Book covers link to Goodreads.

My first half of the year was here.

book coverThis series just happens to be one of my very favourite series. I have the next one pre-ordered on Kindle already. It is a romantic suspense/detective series. However I love the characters and their development along the way. It just has me hooked. This last one had such a fantastic (to me) ending and promise of where the next book is going.

I am not alone in loving this series although only two people I follow on Goodreads are with me in reading the books.

It has a 4.74 rating on Goodreads from 1,318 ratings. Published in October.

book cover I loved this book, worth every big fat dollar I paid to get a hardback copy. I loved the characters, the serious issues covered and that Wren, she was just baby delicious. And sprinkled through was Susan Elizabeth Phillips smart, funny voice. It is a romance, women’s fiction blend. I always buy her books in print. Her next book is an addition to a series of hers and will be straight romance I am guessing.

On Goodreads it has a 4.06 rating from 5,892 ratings. At least 15 other readers I follow have read it as well. Published in June.

book coverFabulous story of a grumpy old woman with a tough back story. It’s also a tale of her grandson, some Antartica penguins and a few scientists. It touched my heart and made me smile and shed a small tear near the end. Beautiful and uplifting.

It has a 4.18 rating on Goodreads from 3,024 ratings and was published in March 2020.

book coverAnother addictive read in this series. Plus really evil men, but balanced by wonderful family and friendship and love. It’s not like the “good” are perfect, but they make you believe in goodness and all that is great about human kind. So many great side characters hope to see more from.

On Goodreads a 4.32 rating from 1431 ratings. Published in August 2020.

book coverI thought Australian author Fiona Palmer has written an amazing story, that is very touching and had me totally engaged with her characters. The issues she explores in this book were especially topical and well thought out. One of the issues she explores I have never come across in any other book. So wonderfully and compassionately told. While I am not a reader who likes backwards in time sections, this one totally aced it and was perfect.

On Goodreads it has a 4.19 rating from 169 ratings. It was published in August 2020.

As next Friday is Christmas Day and the following Friday is January 1st and First Book of the Year, Connect Friday will take a two week break and be back on Friday the 8th of January.

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Backlist Titles Read in 2020

I mostly have read 2020 titles this year although I haven’t tallied up, but maybe next year I will track that. Sarah’s Bookshelves podcast recently included some backlist favourites and I thought – hmm what backlist books did I read this year? So I looked back, I read far more than five, but these five are ones I was really happy with. I haven’t included any audiobooks in this five because most likely will do an audiobook post next week.

All of these books you will have seen here before but these are the ones that made me happy.

book cover This is a YA book and I don’t read many of those but.. after reading one of her books I wanted something else from her.  It was published last year in May 2019.  Read in paperback and I own it.

4.5 stars. I loved the characters of Abbi and Noah and Jack. The themes of real friendship, first love, loss and resilience. It also gives insight of what it is like to be a part of a terrible disaster – in this case 9/11 and live on after. And what that living is like. Julie Buxbaum is now an author I’d read much more from. I first heard of her from the Modern Mrs Darcy book club.

book cover As it happens this is another YA book published in March 2018. I read it in hardback, borrowed from the library.

5 stars. A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mothers religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Absolutely moving book of a young girl finding her voice. While it might be for teens, this book is for any age, it says so much. As it happens I heard of this one on the Modern Mrs Darcy book club!

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Published in 2018, I read it in paperback and I own a copy.

4 stars. The news of her husband’s infidelity comes as a nasty shock to Jenny Reynolds, part-time building control officer and full-time mother – even though, to her surprise and embarrassment, her first reaction is relief, not anguish.

Very humorous, well written, very New Zealand setting. Enjoyed it as many laugh out loud moments. Interesting cast of characters. I just happened to pick this up at the bookshop on a whim. As it turns out Shelleyrae from Book’d Out had read it so that was incentive to take it off my shelves to read.

book cover Published October 2017. It had been on my shelf for awhile but I needed to read the books that preceded it first. I own a paperback copy.

4 stars. Set in Cornwall, lots of baking and Christmas and friendship. I usually enjoy anything by Jenny Colgan. Polly lives in a lighthouse on a small island. Part of a series. No one had to point me to this – I am a Jenny Colgan fan.

book cover Published February 2017. I bought it and own it in paperback from the Book Depository. Being a backlist book it was no longer on my walk in bookshop.

5 stars. A story about a group of neighbours and their friendships and challenges. Set in the West Coast of Australia. I didn’t need anyone to point me to Liz Byrski as I’d read her most recent book and wanted to read her backlist.

really enjoyed this story of neighbours and friends and the cycle of life. The people felt very real as did their struggles and challenges. Liz Byrski has a great gift for exploring the life experiences of the older age group. So much of it I could identify with.

What might be your top backlist book(s) of 2020.

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