Review

Knot Ready for Murder. Mary Marks

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Published: Kensington
Date: 27th July 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Before quilter Martha Rose can tie the knot to Crusher, she has to track down his missing first wife…

Oh dear! Just as at last Martha is ready to plunge into saying yes to marriage to Crusher, it is discovered he was married years ago because of an act of kindness.

Who is Martha? Well first and foremost a quilter. But also in recent years she has become a bit of a sleuth when it comes to murders and such like. She is a bit unorthodox in her methods, although fairly orthodox in her Jewish faith, and I love her Sabbath get togethers with family.

There has been one murder, before the story starts.   Hadas, sister of the murdered person, owner of a business, and to be honest not that likeable, makes her appearance.  Oh and she is the “wife” from long ago for Crusher. On the other hand, Fanya who arrives with her was a lot of fun and I so hope we see more of her.

As usual Martha gets herself involved in some unlikely situations, and eventually with lots of assistance I might add, from her family and friends, solves the mystery and enables her life to move forward.

This book felt a little different to the previous ones, I never felt Martha was in any danger and while there were a few red herrings I’d worked out the guilty party early on. I didn’t mind that and thoroughly enjoyed all the quilt talk in this book. If this book appeals to you, don’t start with it, go back to the first one and start there.

Review

Incense and Sensibility. Sonali Dev

Incense and Sensibility

Published: William Morrow
Date: 6th July 2021
Source:Avon Publicist via NetGalley

Yash Raje, California’s first Indian-American gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world. But when a hate crime at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Desperate to keep Yash’s condition from leaking to the media, his family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Raised by a family of yoga teachers, India has helped San Francisco’s high strung overachievers for a decade without so much as altering her breath. But this man—with his boundless ambition, simmering intensity, and absolute faith in his political beliefs—is like no other.

Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed, including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens to destroy the dream he’s willingly shouldered for his family and community . . . until now.

Sonali Dev takes up the life and times of the Raje family with the story of Yash who is in the middle of a campaign to be governor of California. He has himself in a bit of a tangle as he his along with Naina made it appear that they are a couple, but they are not, just friends mutually helping each other out. Yash really has only eyes for India – a very wise yoga teacher and reiki healer.

What a tangled web we weave when we set out to deceive! Well that should have been Yash’s lament, and at times I wanted to shake him. However reading on and finding out his back story I had sympathy for him and was hoping he’d find his way through the maze.

India is a lovely person, but sort of carries the weight if not of the world at least of her family. Her mother is unwell and her sister has herself involved in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be good for her.

Speaking of mothers I enjoyed the mothers in the story. Especially Yash’s mother when she came all over “mother”. She eventually sized up things well.

There is a stinky dog, a body guard or two who took my heart and numerous other members of Yash’s family we have met previously.

As all romances do, it ended well, but far too abruptly. I wanted just a tad more from the ending. A little more hoop la!

Review

The One You Are With

The One You're With

Published: Thomas Nelson Fiction
Date: 6th July 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

High-school sweethearts Mac and Edie Swan lead a seemingly picture-perfect life in the sleepy-sweet community of Oak Hill, near Mobile, Alabama. Edie is a respected interior designer, Mac is a beloved pediatrician, and they have two great kids and a historic home on tree-lined Linden Avenue. From the outside, the Swan family is the definition of “the good life.” And life is good—mostly. Until a young woman walks into Mac’s office one day. A young woman whose very existence threatens all Mac and Edie have built and all they think they know about each other.

Nineteen years after a summer apart, with a family and established lives and careers, the past that Mac and Edie thought they left behind has come back to greet them. For the first time, constants in their lives are called into question: their roles as parents, their reputation as upstanding members of the community, and the very foundations of their marriage. 

As I read into the first couple of chapters I found myself hooked into the easy flow of the story. It opens with Mac’s point of view and then moves to Edie’s one. It also goes back and forwards from one summer a number of years ago and the current day.

I really felt on Mac’s side a lot of the time, I was a little impatient with Edie because I felt she should own her own stuff sooner! However I hung in there with her and liked how she eventually figured it all out.

This story explores what happens in a good marriage when something pops up that really rattles the cage. They are great parents and very good members of the community but now they are asked to stretch. To absorb and grow from what presents itself.

I found myself smiling and laughing at times especially there in the last chapter. It was a satisfying, thought provoking read. Happy to have read it.

Review

Love For Beginners. Jill Shalvis

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Published: William Morrow

Date: 8th June 2021

Source: Avon Publicist via NetGalley

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive she starts over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer. 

Love for Beginners by Jill Shalvis was an utterly delightful read.

From the beginning it just wrapped itself around me and gave me such a great reading time.

Emma is such a gritty character, she just doesn’t give in, she has to start over completely again, and she still has things to cope with left over from her accident. For quite awhile she struggles to find her path, but let me just let you know find it she does.

She has this enormous big dog who is scared of everything and everyone – mostly. Hog – the dog’s name, gave me so many laugh out loud moments.

Emma meets up with Alison – they have a history from high school. Alison did one or two stupid things and plus she blamed Emma for some things. I loved how the relationship develops between them. 

Simon is the physio and more than that. He is caring for his Dad – Dale who has had a stroke and as well he has had to take over the running of his Dad’s company. I loved Dale too and his outbursts and antics often had my both sympathising and smiling.

Of course there is some romance, which doesn’t go smoothly to begin with, but as it develops so do the people involved evolve.

This for me was the right book at the right time.

Review

The House Guests. Emilie Richards

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Published: Harlequin – Mira.
Date: 29th June 2021
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.

When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed The House Guests  by Emilie Richards. Any moment I had I was very happy to pick the book up and sink into it.

I was immediately drawn by the gritty Amber and her Dad’s wisdom on the luck of the bird and the worm. I liked her son Will too, a sixteen year old with a good heart. But their plight and the mystery that surrounds them had me worrying and wondering.

Cassie has had a big upheaval in her life and has returned to her hometown, most likely where she feels more secure. She has lost her husband and Savannah, her stepdaughter, blames her for the death of her Dad. So tension abounds between the two, and yet Cassie’s love is to be only admired.  A few times their relationship had me tearing up.

Sometimes when reading a book there are memorable events that I never forget. One such one involves Savannah and so called friends and two teachers. At times I’d want to say to Savannah ‘get over it’, but really she is struggling and its going to take awhile.

I found the pacing just right, the characters interesting – I wanted to know more about them and how they would fare. I enjoyed seeing them find their ways through the maze of challenges. I loved the Greek flavour of the family restaurant, the minor characters and the friendships and bonds that develop.

There is some mystery, some underlying tension – is the bogey man going to jump out at some stage! Of course there are some issues explored and that is done with compassion and thoughtfulness.

Thanks to Emilie Richards for another wonderful story to read and enjoy.

Emilie Richards color - Galen McGeeABOUT THE AUTHOR:
USA Today bestselling author Emilie Richards has written more than seventy novels. She has appeared on national television and been quoted in Reader’s Digest, right between Oprah and Thomas Jefferson.

Born in Bethesda, Maryland, and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Richards has been married for more than forty years to her college sweetheart. She splits her time between Florida and Western New York, where she is currently plotting her next novel.

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Review

Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around. Camille Pagán.

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Published: Lake Union
Date: 11th May 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

It’s been thirteen years since doctors declared Libby Ross-Velasquez a goner. Yet here she is—cancer free. So why doesn’t she feel more alive?

Sure, Libby’s husband, Shiloh, has been distant. One of their daughters has a serious health condition. And her father’s death hovers over Libby like a rain cloud. Still, this eternal optimist knows she’s the winner of the existential lottery.

But when her forced cheer isn’t enough to keep her family from catching her blahs, she decides to fly them all to Vieques. The Puerto Rican island is where she and Shiloh fell in love—and where she decided to fight for her life after her cancer diagnosis. Where better to put their problems into perspective?

Then a tropical storm strikes. Libby pretends everything’s fine, even as she fears she’s doomed her family. What she can’t see is that the worst disaster they’ve faced may be the best thing that ever happened to them. But first, they have to get through it.

Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around was a slow starter for me. However as I read into the story I was soon engrossed in the life of Libby and her family.

I began not liking Libby that much, she was a bit of an avoider. I thought she could do with a read of one of Brené Brown’s books where she talks about not making up stories in your head.

Libby has a loving husband – with a bit of a query there, two twin girls, one of whom has Diabetes 1, a gay twin brother who has had a falling out with his partner, a father’s ashes she can’t commit to burying and she has lost her taste for her job.

It’s a lot, and the way Libby comes to face all this is what makes the story so good. I loved her friendship with the wise woman on Vieques, the dog she lets her heart out to and the way she finds her way back to what is really important.

Along the way we learn what it is like to experience a bad hurricane for an small island and what is like to live with Diabetes 1 for all the family.

So family, friendship, loss, love, facing into the difficulties of life – this story has plenty to offer.

Review

The Last Night in London. Karen White

The Last Night in London

Published: Simon & Shuster – Australia.
Date: 5th May 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck – she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever.

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie, healing from past trauma and careful to close herself off to others, finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, Precious’ enigmatic surrogate nephew. As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’ haunting past – and the secrets she swore she’d never reveal …

The Last Night in London by Karen White tells a very poignant story of two women during World War 11 in London, as well as a 2019 link with one of the women.  It is one of the best dual time lines that I have read, it goes together so seamlessly.

The story has mystery – what happened back in those early war times. What happened to some of the people who seem to have been wiped from the  face of the earth.  And in 2019 Cassie seems to be hiding something, there is an air of mystery to her as well.  It wasn’t until I had finished this book that I discovered Cassie had been a part of two previous books, and I had read the first one. I intend going back and reading that, then the second and then this one again! This one is a standalone book, but will be the richer for reading the three I do believe!

For readers who are fascinated by the fashion industry back just before the war and on into it. And if you love old houses and London that will help too. As the story develops, the clues emerge  slowly. There are a couple of twists that make this so worth hanging in with.

The characters are well developed and I really felt for them. I felt saddened by some of the war events, and chuckled at some of the gentle humour at other times.  There are secrets, some betrayal, love that endures and heartbreak. Well really this book has so much to offer.

Review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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I had a good week of sewing and reading. I had an evening with some of my brothers and sisters on Saturday as one brother was down from up country. We had fish and chips and a night of laughs.

Today another brother brought me some manure (cow and sheep poo) from his farm for my veggie garden and as the day was mild I actually dug it into the garden to hopefully make it happy for next spring and summer.

Today, Monday, is a public holiday where we get to celebrate the Queen’s birthday, so I intend spending it with a friend. Then it’ll be back to reading and quilting for the rest of the week.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

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And still listening to The Missing Sister.

Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

The Stepsisters.  Susan Mallery

May Reading Roundup

Recent Book Buys

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Review

The Stepsisters. Susan Mallery

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Published: Harlequin – Mira
Date: 8th June 2021
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery is a book about sisters. Daisy and Sage are stepsisters, Daisy and Cassidy are half sisters as are Cassidy and Sage. A little complicated but not really. Their relationships with each other didn’t get off to the best of starts.  All thanks really to a mother figure who wasn’t that great at being a mother.

When Cassidy ends up at Daisy’s house after a bad accident, the three sisters have a second chance to discover what being sisters could mean. It is a rather pitted path, fraught with hiccups, very poor decisions and the need to stretch and grow on all their parts.

Daisy’s marriage has hit a rough spot and I have to say I really had no sympathy for the inept, complaining husband who projected all his feelings onto Daisy. He was one of two unlikeable characters in this story.

Each of the women grows considerably in the course of the story, and each finds a satisfying way forward. They change because they communicate with each other, they hang in there and recognise where they got things wrong.  They discover a friendship and a supportive base that would I imagine sustain them for the rest of their lives.

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Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-stepsisters-9780778312031/9780778331803 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778331803 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488211577-the-stepsisters 

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Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-stepsisters-by-susan-mallery-paperback/-/A-81262171# 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Stepsisters-Paperback-9780778331803/194267274 

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Book Connections, Reading challenge, Review

Challenging Reads

This year I am trying to do the Emilie Richard’s Reader challenge that she has on her Facebook page.  It is informal and so I don’t count it as “must do”, but I look each month and see what I can incorporate. It has helped me take three books off my actual shelf and read them and the other two I got at the library.

January: A first responders story or book.
book cover It may be a stretch to count this as a first responders book but because it involved those who were part of a mass shooting in a mosque in Christchurch and Husna responded to those shot around her and then was shot herself I count this as a very first responder’s story.

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February: This book was read in response to a person who changed the world in some way. A biography of Eunice Kennedy. She really did focus on making the world better for those with disabilities and started games that would eventually become world wide for the disabled. An extremely well researched, well written book. Eileen McNamara brings alive Eunice Kennedy, with all her amazing drive and passion and flaws. She was a woman who I think never took no for an answer. She fought for the injustice she saw about her. She worked politically and hands on with those especially with intellectual disabilities and really did change the way these people were treated and seen. She was just so herself. A marriage that seems to have been successful on many plains and children who have travelled on in her spirit with today’s insights incorporated. While I am not sure I would have liked her, I certainly applaud her for all that she achieved. The book itself is so well written, it just draws a reader in

book cover March – a book that was either a diary or a novel that had a diary within it. I chose The Light Over London as a diary is found by Cara in 2017. It takes us back to when Louise Keene a young British women enlisted and became part of a women’s gunner team. It is told well and seamlessly goes between each era. Some secrets, some heartache, lots of courage and second chances. I enjoyed it, although I did find it just a little slow moving.

book coverApril challenge was a book from the Times Magazine all time 100 list or the Guardian 1000 books list.  Well that’s quite a choice, but very few of them were that palatable to me. In the end I went with A Wizard of Earthsea, which is fantasy and I vaguely remember liking many, many years ago. I decided to reread it, and it was like new as I had remembered very little of it. It’s main character is Ged who is involved in a long journey to find out who he is and who his real enemy is. He goes through danger, loss and suffering. And has his victory that is a start. (There are a number more books). My favourite character in this book is Vetch who is a true friend for Ged.

Historical Fiction.

I am sure I read Georgette Heyer before but am not totally sure. I so enjoyed this book set mostly in France. Some of the language and customs were quite foreign to me and it intrigued me. For example the men would “show a leg”. I am guessing it was kind of putting one leg forward and bowing? Leonie was an enormously fun heroine and the Duke of Avon turns from a somewhat notorious gentleman into someone hardly recognised by those close as he falls for Leonie. The dialogue was often witty and there was enough little twists and turns to keep me turning the pages.

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