Review

What You Wish For. Katherine Center

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 14th July 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

Set within school life, What You Wish For did hook me and keep me reading. possibly because of my teaching career.  It has two main characters who had known each other a few years back and now meet up again at a different school.

Sam has just lost her beloved Principal and the whole staff are still grieving his loss. Duncan appears and he comes in with a bang. He is completely different to what Sam knew of him before. And so for awhile there I was totally horrified by his actions. However when we get to know Duncan more we come to understand.

There are minor characters who are rather sweet, especially the nine year old boy with the very remote and rather unlikeable Dad who also happens to be chairman of the board at the school.

I liked the emphasis on however life is going, take the moments you can, to celebrate and to choose joy – even be a little wacky at times. I also loved Sam’s library set up.

It’s a pleasant story, and if you are looking for a light summer read and you like Katherine Center’s work you can pass a few happy hours with it.

Review

Looking at the Library Again

Well I have been away from the library for months. I cancelled any reserves I had and went library free during Covid19 months. Now that we are having a “so they say” Covid19 free time here in NZ, I have tentatively put my feet back in the water by reserving five books online, and now await them.

I love the reserve feature and I know I can put a “delay” kind of thing on them, but when they are available I feel a bit of pressure to read them. A bit like a review book really, and I read best when there is total no pressure for anything!

Here are the five books I’ve reserved!

A review by Marybook cover reminded me of this book, although in the USA it is called How the Penguins Saved Veronica.

I see this book is already on the reserve shelf for me at the library and I need to pick up by the 12th.

book coverBeach Read – I am not sure if this is for me or not. But good to make a small investment in it and get it from the library. Was on Anne Bogel’s summer reading list and I have seen a number of reviews from it. A DNF from one GR reviewer I respect so will check it out at the least.

 

book coverThe Cake Maker’s Wish – I have read this Australian author before and this is her recently published one. I do admit though I have her last year book on my shelf and haven’t read it!

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Murder in the East End is a cozy mystery series I enjoy and recently I was alerted to the fact that this one is out.

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Maybe One Day is a shot in the dark. I like the Irish author Carmel Harrington and I saw this author on a Zoom presentation along with her. I think she is English but just thought I’d give her a whirl.

 

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Review

Daring and The Duke

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Published: HarperCollins – Avon

Date:30th June 2020

Publicist via NetGalley

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best…until the man she once loved returns.

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess.

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.

Daring and the Duke is the third book in the series and gives us the story of Ewan and Grace. They had both been childhood friends, but both of them along with Ewan’s two half brothers, had been under the thrall of a wicked and ruthless Duke.

Cast out the brothers Devil and Whit and Grace had made a life for themselves in the tough side of London. They’d fought there way to being rich and wealthy and with all their beings hated their brother Ewan who had turned on them all.

Or did he? We now have more of a view of his side of the story and Grace – who is not related to the brothers – must acknowledge that despite her success, her heart, body and soul still resides with the boy she lost. Now she is called to re-examine the events of the past and find where she wants to go next.

Sarah MacLean writes strong, smart women, her books are sexy and spicy, and while this book wasn’t quite as strong as her first book of the series it was very enjoyable and satisfying to see how it all worked out.

Review

Book Delight Costs!

Kindle books are great and I do appreciate them. However there is nothing like an actual book in hand for me. This past week there has been a feast of books landing at my door. Finally the post is moving from international sources. However… maybe I am not so delighted about other aspects on reflection.

My one problem was – which one to pick up first to read! And what a great problem to have.

book cover This one came from the Book Depository UK. This one was a bit of a shot in the dark because I had seen so many good reviews for it. See my next book – postage is free although I guess may have a little added to book cost I bet. Cost of book $20 NZ. Best of bunch cost wise.

book coverDance Away With Me I had pre-ordered from Amazon USA months ago. And then to be sent my CC had to be changed to pay for it and whatever I did, didn’t work. So.. after about an hour I decided to cancel it and re-order. Bingo – back in business. And imagine my surprise when it turned up on my doorstep a week later. Of course the postage cost was a big ouch. No… a huge ouch. How did that happen. Just looking again. No wonder it came in a week. It cost way more than the hardback book itself. Did I tick a wrong box!! I do need my head examined. Just pretended to buy another book. No! No box to tick, they just put in the one way of sending. Oh well a bit wiser now! Okay I’ll tell you $30.98 USA. That’s about $55 NZ. Looks like I may have to part ways with more than my money. Bye bye books from Amazon by post.

book cover Alpha Night I had pre-ordered here from online shop Mighty Ape. There was a lag because the publisher was having trouble getting things transported. I know because I asked them on Twitter! Anyway it landed on my door on the same day as Dance Away With Me. Cost of  courier  was I $3.90. Out of the five books that arrived this week, this was the one I am choosing to read first. It’s one of my favourite series and well Nalini Singh lives in NZ.

book coverThe following post My Pear Shaped Life was sitting there. This is by an Irish author that I am now obsessed by and this is her latest book. I’d ordered it from the Book Depository UK months ago but there were problems and then they couldn’t post the version I had pre-ordered. So then… I ordered another one and after a long lag this one began its journey across the world. Just so happy to have it now to even look at happily. Cost of book $30.51 NZ

book coverJust when I thought book life couldn’t get any better this one turned up yesterday. From Mighty Ape NZ so cost $3.90 by courier. Cost of paperback in NZ dollars was $36. Books are expensive here. That’s pretty normal for a paperback. $30 if you are lucky to buy it on a slightly dropped price.

 

So all books in the hand but leaving quite a big hole in my book budget. Lucky for me there are not many books this season that I really want as actual books.  Well as far as I know anyway! But post has turned out to be somewhat a revelation to myself!

Why don’t I buy these from the walk in local book stores? They don’t carry books like these, except maybe a small shelf of Nalini Singh. Very toffee nosed readers in NZ.

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Review

Brave Girl Quiet Girl. Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date:19th May 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.

Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.

It was difficult to start into this book as a young child disappears in a car and away from her mother. I was almost reading with my eyes shut!

However as it turns out she is found by Molly a young sixteen year old homeless girl. Molly is amazing with Etta and eventually all is well. Or almost well.

We get to know the mother – Brooke as well as Molly and of course little Etta who is quite a character on her own. Brooke is really on hard times and living at her own mother’s house, while supporting her young daughter. When her daughter is taken off with the car her world falls apart and those around her wonder if it will ever get back together.

The story explores mother / daughter relationships, the best and worst. It explores homelessness and the foster system. It explores what real relationships are like  and promises and trust.

It’s an emotional ride, it tugs at a reader’s heartstrings. Brooke and Molly have so much to take on and grow through and they do and it made the story a really good read.

 

Review

Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe

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Publisher: Kensington Books
Date: 26th May 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Immediately Jodi Thomas draws the reader in, with intriguing characters in the middle of odd situations right in the middle of a little dusty town in Texas.  We have the Mayor Piper Mackenzie – she seems to be in a spot of trouble, and then along comes a preacher who has been a soldier  and a smoke jumper and is now trying on a preacher’s suit – Sam. And along with the preacher someone else is dressing up as a cowboy, that would be Colby. And he has a mission.  Great set up.

And so the story begins. It’s entertaining and as always the characters are delightful. I loved almost each and everyone.  Pecos – the kid just finishing high school and leaving home and the girl he gets entangled with. Old Mr Winston was another loveable person, plus the widows. And of course red headed Anna. And my favourites – three children with a wagon.

This is the first in a series and I look forward to meeting them again as hopefully at least some of them will make an appearance in the next book.

Two things Jodi Thomas does well. Makes a small town in Texas come alive and she writes characters who are warm and very likeable. The plot has some mystery, some romance and sheer good heartedness. Perfect for an escape read.

Review

One Perfect Summer Brenda Novak

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Publisher: Harlequin
Date: April 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

After taking a DNA test three women find out they are half sisters. But how? Serenity sees herself as coming from a happily parented family, with a brother and two sisters. Reagan has just her mother, but there is a no hint of anything odd. Lorelei has spent many years in foster care, after being found wandering the streets.

They come together over one perfect summer, where they get to know each other. Each in there own way are grappling with crisis life situations. Serenity’s husband is in prison and it was she who ensured he went there. Now her writing has dried up and she can’t get to write the book that is overdue. Reagan had an office affair that has left her anxious and Lorelei has found that her husband slept with her best friend. What a hotpot of challenges.

The story is told in turn by the three sisters and occasionally by their neighbor Finn – he and his two brothers are staying next door. It helped me the reader to really empathise with each woman and see exactly how they felt and what they were struggling with.

There is a little touch of romance, but essentially it is the story of each woman and the challenges she must accept and grow through. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And… I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them!

Review

Best Behavior. Wendy Francis

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Publisher: Harlequin
Date: May 5th
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

This story takes place over a weekend that is celebrating the graduation from college for the twins Dawn and Cody. The twins are part of two families, their parents having divorced when they were about twelve.

There is quite a bit of tension surrounding the weekend. Their mother Meredith and step father Joel want to negotiate the days in a way that they will remain calm and sane. Meredith is dealing with the fact that her children are grown up and she is fearing that this is where it all stops for her. They’ll be adults who no longer need her.  Joel has helped raise these two and all he wants to do is see this weekend through with all its potential for chaos.

Roger – the twins’ hot shot lawyer Dad is aiming to give the twins a great time. His young wife Lily is totally wanting to be included in the family, to be accepted and liked. However there is quite some bad vibes coming her way from Dawn and Meredith.  As well Lily is beginning to question her life and needs.

We are given the viewpoints from Meredith, Joel, Cody, Dawn and Lily. As a reader that helps you to understand the fears and anxieties of each of these loveable but flawed characters. I especially liked this aspect of the writing, being able to walk a little while alongside each one.

During the few days things go radically awry, although not in the way I might have first predicted. As the story came to crisis point I was turning the pages to see what would happen.

Book Connections, Review

Books Recommended by Others

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When I read a book review by someone and I know that my reading taste intersects with theirs in some ways I wonder if I should try it and I sometimes do, depending on whether of course there is space on my reading calendar. Here are five books that I did pick up. Links go back to the reader’s original review.

book cover I read a book review of this on Mary’s blog Book Fan and while she didn’t say a lot about this debut  novel she did capture my attention about it. So I requested it from the library and it was a very happy match up. So much so I even ended up making it a 5 star read. What a wonderful story. I loved Dan and Ellie and Phineas (the pheasant) and Ed. Beautifully written, quirky, delightful. This is a love story about nature and people who see the world slightly differently. Often I chuckled out loud. I loved much of the imagery – like rock and limpet! It’s about doing what really matters and being what really matters. This is a book I’ll long remember. Thanks Mary because I have not seen it mentioned anywhere else. I will want to read Hazel Prior again.

book coverMy niece Amanda recommended this book to me as it was one of Jojo Moyes books she really liked. It is historical fiction and tells the story of a group of women travelling from Australia to England to join the men they had married from Britain during the war years. All I can say is they were very courageous and the trip was not easy. Some got telegrams mid sail saying they were not wanted and they were put off the ship to be returned home at the next port. At times I found It dragged for me, but on the whole I found it insightful and well worth the read.  I am already a Jojo Moyes fan but only picked this book up because Amanda had enjoyed it.

book cover This book was first recommended by Elizabeth at Silver Reviews and then Debbie from The Reading Frenzy backed that up. When I needed a book for a reading challenge for a book that included food I decided now was the time to read it. It was perfect. Full of delicious smells, scenery, baking. Yum. Wonderful characters, a great sense of family and tradition and lots of little pieces of wisdom thrown in.  I have since read another of Viola Shipman’s books and have another sitting on my TBR.

 

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It is no secret that Laurel Rain enjoys reading Anne Tyler and I’ve seen her reading and reviewing her books. Last year after reading her review for Clock Dance I went out and bought it. And just this week I read it. It’s a slow moving wending way of a book through the life of one woman Willa and the people who surround her. After the rather hopeless husbands and sons she has encountered she finds a very different group of people, who I think prove to her family is not necessarily about blood. I really liked her vision for going forward. I will certainly read Anne Tyler again.

book cover At first I passed this by on NetGalley but then I read Katherine’s review over at I Wish I Lived in a Library and I saw her ” I really liked it”, I knew I had to take notice.  So I headed back to NG and downloaded it. I am just a little ways in but I can tell that I am going to enjoy it. How much? I am not that sure yet, but it is a very positive start. I’ve also seen others since saying it is a good read, so stepping out in faith and hope!!

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Review

Stories We Never Told. Sonja Yoerg

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 1st May 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Sonja Yoerg’s latest book Stories We Never Told is a tale of obsession, jealousy, hidden truths, mingled with a cold control on the part of one character.

Jackie Strelitz is a professor married to a sport scout, Miles. For five years she had been in a relationship with Harlan another professor who had wooed her but set a lot of boundaries. Finally when she realises he won’t give her what would make her happy she walks out. Now he springs Nasira on her and then let the games begin.

And they are far from pleasant games. The story builds slowly as the person setting up carefully stacks  a very careful, coldly thought out plan. Most of the characters are quite flawed, mainly because they hide so much and while they “see” they still deny.

I kept turning the pages, although I have to admit this is not my usual kind of read and therefore in some ways I would say “this isn’t for me”. However those who like a good psychological thriller I think will be quite satisfied with it.