Review

I Am Not the Audience for Some Books.

Well obviously I know some books aren’t for me and I never pick them up. Horror for example or anything scary!  But sometimes I think a book is for me but then…

Sometimes I don’t finish  the book. I found a way of marking them for myself on Goodreads and then they don’t go on my read shelf, nor do they sit in my TBR. These are all books that have been well acclaimed by other readers, but they just didn’t hit me for one reason or another. It was interesting to go back, and see how others found them and what ratings they stand at, at this time.  It was also interesting to reflect on why they didn’t work for me and why I am not the right audience for these books.

book cover I fully expected to like this one, (library book) but I just found myself not able to get into it. I think possibly it was the first person point of view with the constant train of thought process. Another day it might have been for me, but I just wasn’t in the mood. So a good book – a 3.84 rating on Goodreads with over 11 500 ratings.

 

book coverPS I Love You, I gave it longer than I should. While it had an important issue, the tone of the book felt odd and I got sick of the pubs and the drinking so in the end I couldn’t hang in there. I sent it on by donating it to the book fair.  Another good book, it has a rating of 4.2 on Goodreads and over 355 000 have rated it.

book cover I know this one is regarded as a kind of classic, and again I really wanted to like it. But it was just a little too serious and long and dusty for me, so after awhile I decided to donate it to the book fair as well and declare defeat. On Goodreads it has a rating of 4.48 from over 146 000 ratings.

book coverAnd here is another book I crashed and burned on. On being a little way in I have decided I am not the audience for this book. So far the heroine is whiny and first person narrative has to be really good to hold me. I also don’t appreciate the language, so I am not prepared to commit valuable reading time to it. I am sure though other audiences will possibly be quite happy to read it.  It has a Goodreads rating of 3.85 with ratings from over 1380 readers.

book coverI didn’t write my thoughts at the time about this one so I think I didn’t get very far into it and returned it to the library for more appreciative readers. Maybe I didn’t give it enough chance or could have been too literary for me. Goodreads rating is 3.74 from almost 32 000 ratings.

So books that are first person, chatty style books aren’t for me most likely, nor are some more literary books. They might be suited for you as a reader but they are ones I’ve put down. Possibly for ever, or for another time.

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Review

Runaway. Emilie Richards

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Date Published: 1st September 2020
Source: From the author.

 

Runaway opens in a seedy bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Jess Cantor  is there – a journalist gathering information about the young runaways that end up there. Crystal walks into the bar but will not talk with him. She is dressed like she is there to pick up a guy for sex but her walk isn’t quite right. Hmm. And then Jess thinks he may have seen her before.

The opening chapter has atmosphere, a promise of mystery and that everything is not as it seems. I was hooked . It turns out Crystal is Krista – a librarian in New Orleans in search of her runaway sister. So when she teams up with Jess what can a journalist and librarian do? Well with a lot of love in their hearts that could count, because runaways mostly leave home from lack of it. However trust is a rare commodity. Will they find Rosie the sister that Krista feels she let down badly.

The search is on, and along the way they experience the seedy side of New Orleans, and some of the evil men here and further afield who will try to stop their search turning into a success. They will be changed by what happens to them, and so is the reader. There just isn’t enough love and kindness in the world.

This trilogy – there are two more in the series, was first published in 1990. Emilie Richards now has the rights back for it and is republishing it. She has left it in that time, so no cell phones or internet to help. Yet this is still a story for our time and I loved it. I can’t wait for book 2 and 3. I know what I’ll be giving priority in my reading to once they are  available. I see Runaway was a nominee for RWA for long contemporary romance 1991. Well deserved.

Review

The Women’s Pages. Victoria Purman

book coverPublished: Harlequin Australia
Date: 3rd September 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

In The Women’s Pages, Victoria Purman tells us the story – the history – of the lives of those as WW2 ends in Australia. In particular she paints a picture for us of the life of a woman journalist and her family and friends.

Tilly’s husband is a soldier at war, she hasn’t heard from him since 1942, but she forever hopes, as she writes  what she is assigned. What she is assigned is not always to her passion. Women are in many ways ridiculed by the men, who take “the important” stories and the larger pay packets home.

In many ways this is a black and white picture. Victoria Purman manages to provide for us an idea of the realities of that time. It is still a time of great struggle and injustice. Men return – if they do – often physically and psychologically wounded. With images in their minds that will scar them forever.  Women have scraped and provided for their families on very little and still there is very little let up. Everywhere there is injustice.

We especially see that injustice played out in the life of Tilly’s father – a waterside worker. They worked long hard hours for little remuneration and very poor working conditions. They are asking for better and are labelled “commies”.

Tilly is a gutsy woman, she has passion and fire. Even though she suffers in little and large ways she fights on. She takes the opportunities small as they are, she sees the stories of so many women of that time and is determined to make a difference.

A very realistic and eye opening depiction of this era from a woman’s point of view. Well done to Victoria Purman.

Review

The Switch. Beth O’Leary

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Published: MacMillian Audio Production from Flatiron Books
Date: 18th August 2020
Narrated by: Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

After enjoying reading The Flatshare recently by Beth O’Leary, I was delighted to be able to take up the opportunity to listen to The Switch. 

If you are thinking of reading this book and like audiobooks this is the way to go. I loved the characters, Leena and Eileen of course especially. Eileen – what a 79 year old! However there are other minor characters who fit in so well and make this book a delightful reading experience.

It is full of humor and fun, yet has its serious side in that Leena and Eileen are still deeply missing Leena’s sister who died not so long ago. It has left a huge hole in their hearts. Taking up the challenge to live in each other’s place for a while provides them with new experiences, new people and eventually new ways of seeing life.

The narrators absolutely do an excellent interpretation of the the two characters of Leena and Eileen. For me, they became those characters. Their pacing, expression and just the right emotional tone totally enhanced the story.

So looking forward to the next book by Beth O’Leary.

 

 

Review

The Moon Is Missing. Jenni Ogden

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Published: Sea Dragon Press
Date: 25th August 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Georgia Grayson has perfected the art of being two people: a neurosurgeon on track to becoming the first female Director of Neurosurgery at a large London hospital, and a wife and mother. Home is her haven where, with husband Adam’s support, she copes with her occasional anxiety attacks. That is until her daughter, 15-year-old Lara, demands to know more about Danny, her mysterious biological father from New Orleans who died before she was born. “Who was he? Why did he die? WHO AM I?” Trouble is, Georgia can’t tell her.

As escalating panic attacks prevent her from operating, and therapy fails to bring back the memories she has repressed, fractures rip through her once happy family. Georgia sees only one way forward— to return to New Orleans where Danny first sang his way into her heart, and then to the rugged island where he fell to his death. Somehow she must uncover the truth Lara deserves, whatever the cost.

The Moon is Missing by Jenni Ogden I have to admit drew me further and further in to the life of neurosurgeon – Georgia Grayson. Her life as a surgeon, her family and relationships with her son and daughter and husband. Then there are her anxiety attacks and the reason for them and the consequences that arise because of them.

The book is well written and its focus is Georgia. I liked her, she is talented yet haunted by her past. As she takes up with courage the journey back into her life, I the reader, feel like I am right there with her. The heartache that is happening in her family, the questions she holds, the answers hidden to her.

I really liked – if its okay to say that! – the part that tells of Georgia and Lara ( her daughter) in hurricane Katrina. It was both horrific and wondrous as medical staff and others worked to help each other.

The three settings of London, New Orleans and Great Barrier Island were all contrasts – yet each had their own fascination. I also loved where finally Georgia and her family truly find themselves at the end of the journey.

Some family secrets are gradually revealed. I really appreciated how they unfolded and finally came together. Forgiveness, acceptance and compassion eventually win through.

I found myself  slowly reading the story,  a few times I had to reach for a tissue for the times of sadness and beauty. A Moon is Missing touched my heart and was so worth spending time with it.

Review

The Paris Library

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Published: Hachette Australia
Date: 2nd June 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is the unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together.

PARIS, 1939 Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and working at The American Library in Paris for the formidable director Dorothy Reeder is all she has ever dreamed of. The Library and its thriving community of students, writers, diplomats and book lovers provide her with a safe haven. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes. The Nazi ‘Library Protector’ changes the rules overnight, declaring a war on words and making the librarians risk their lives to do their jobs.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles presents us with the American Library in Paris in the months leading up to WW11 and during the war. Like all stories set in this era at times it is stark and heart breaking. The people suffer so much.

Yet within the confines of the library there are warm friendships among those who work there and those who come to read, write and borrow books. Odile is a wonderful character – she loves reading and books and she so wants to work at the library.

We meet Odile again in 1985 in Montana, USA. What is she doing there? Why does she live like she does.? Well, enter Lily the young girl next door determined to find out. Before long an important relationship is formed.

I am not going to mention plot again, this is a book you need to read and go into it without knowing what happens next! But… I think any reader who loves Paris, libraries, books, courageous people and people who make terrible mistakes will find much to reflect upon in this book.

Review

The Friendship List. Susan Mallery. Blog Tour

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 4th August 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirty something widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

Unity and Ellen have been best friends forever.  Whatever is going on in their lives, they’ve been there with and for each other. When they recognise that their lives are in a bit of a rut they make a list of all the things they could do to move them from that rut.

When Ellen heard Cooper saying he was worried about his Mom and he wasn’t sure that it was right for him to go away to college, she was devastated. When Unity had a few important people in her life point out she was living in the past – she got shirty, then she got working on a list in the meantime. Still not sure she was ready to move on.

I liked both the men in the book – Thaddeus and Keith. They were honest good men, and had a lot going for them. I loved how Thaddeus treated his great aunt and Keith loved and sweated over his daughter Lissa.

The story ambles along, alternating between the two couples mainly, with some falling out and falling in. There were some funny, laugh out loud moments. It’s about friendship, moving on and growing up and second chances. In places somewhat saucy. While I prefer a women’s fiction book I am going to place this right into the romance genre.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter: @susanmallery
Facebook: @susanmallery
Instagram: @susanmallery
Author website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

BUY LINKS:

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Review

The Kids Are Gonna Ask. Blog Tour

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Published: Park Row Books

Date: 28th July 2020

Source: Publicist via NetGalley

The death of Thomas and Savannah McClair’s mother turns their world upside down. Raised to be fiercely curious by their grandmother Maggie, the twins become determined to learn the identity of their biological father. And when their mission goes viral, an eccentric producer offers them a dream platform: a fully sponsored podcast called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. To discover the truth, Thomas and Savannah begin interviewing people from their mother’s past and are shocked when the podcast ignites in popularity. As the attention mounts, they get caught in a national debate they never asked for—but nothing compares to the mayhem that ensues when they find him.

Told through the voices of three characters – two of them being Thomas and Savannah – we follow these twins search to find their biological Dad in The Kids are Gonna Ask. Their mother is dead so they can’t ask her and their amazing grandmother Maggie doesn’t know either. However she is prepared to back them up.

They set out through the medium of a podcast to see what they can find out, on the premise that the more people they involve the more chance they have of finding him. Along the way they find out the pitfalls of social media, how friends can let you down, and that there are odious, self serving characters out there.

And as well there are are nice, supportive people who genuinely care and love them. Both Savannah and Thomas along the way get to know more about their mother, come to understand their grandmother Maggie more and they do find out about their Dad.

This is a coming of age story, it explores choices and friendship and how a loss of loved ones leaves big gaps.

It was interesting to see the falsehood of social media versus the real life genuine relationships.

I am not sure where you’d place this book, it’s rather young adult with something for adults as well.

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Review

Musical Chairs. Amy Poeppel

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Publisher: Atria Books

Date: July 21st 2020

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

Musical Chairs is an excellent title for this book, as the characters and  various pets, dance in and out of the story. Most of them by the end of the book have changed places – upending the lives that were and taking on something new.

I did find so many characters hard to keep track of, although I need to say they all eventually settled and intertwined in a satisfying way.

The friendship that Will and Bridget have is amazing and right the way through they are there for each other. They form part of a trio – the only problem being they have lost their third member and this is sort of forcing them to take a second look at their lives.

There is so much going on with Bridget’s adult children, her sister and father who has just announced he too is going to be making a big change in his life.

For readers who love music this would be a great book for them to relax and have a good summer read. I am not one of those so the music references were lost on me. However this was a book that grew on me and by the end I was left wishing the characters a happy going forward in their lives.

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.